Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, a non-profit organization that provides caring adult mentors into the lives of at-risk youth, will be in a better position to reach more such young people in the greater St. Louis area thanks to state resources announced March 15 by Gov. Jay Nixon.
Nixon outlined the $250,000 in Youth Opportunities Program tax credits for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEMO) while visiting the organization’s St. Louis facility, where he was joined by the non-profit’s leadership and employees.
Becky James-Hatter, President/CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters, welcomed Nixon on his first visit to the agency’s Grand Center location. Thanking Nixon for his consistent support of Big Brothers Big Sisters, James-Hatter commented, “You once told me to never walk by an old friend to shake the hand of a new one. That is very poignant advice that you obviously take very seriously because you’ve never left us. You’ve always supported us.”
Echoing James-Hatter’s words, Scott Zajac, Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Directors for BBBSEMO, noted, “We appreciate your time and your continued commitment to helping kids live and learn in positive opportunity-rich environments.”
Nixon announced the YOP tax credits in a room filled with agency supporters which included BBBSEMO staff, board members, donors, local elected officials, volunteers and three Little Brothers.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri has a proven track record of nearly 100 years of building trusting and enduring relationships between caring adult mentors and at-risk young people in the St. Louis area,” Gov. Nixon said. “Studies have shown that young people who have been mentored through a Big Brother or Big Sister are far less likely to engage in drug use or violent behavior, and far more likely to demonstrate an improved academic performance in school. I am pleased that the state of Missouri can assist this vital organization in expanding its critical mission of reaching even more young people in need. ”
Since the St. Louis chapter was established in 1914, BBBSEMO has been providing one significant service—building lasting relationships that encourage and support young people, especially at-risk young people who are most in need, including those who live in single-parent households; have a parent in prison; live at or below the poverty level; struggle academically; attend underperforming schools; or reside in unhealthy, unsafe environments.
Over the next year, BBBSEMO has established a goal of increasing the number of at-risk students it serves in St. Louis City and County to 2,900 young people. The organization also wants to increase the number of youth it serves in its specialized mentoring program that is geared specifically to academic performance called ABC Today!, to 850 students. Other goals over the next year are to increase the number of youth who show improved academic performance and reduce the number of young people committing crimes or other delinquent acts.
To assist BBBSEMO in its fundraising to meet new expenses associated with expanding the program, Governor Nixon’s administration awarded the organization $250,000 in Youth Opportunities Program incentives. These resources provide a boost to BBBSEMO’s fundraising, as the organization can solicit donors while offering them the incentive of having 50 percent of their donation returned to them in the form of state tax credits.
Big Brothers Big Sisters is a proud member of the United Way.