Nevada County Big Brothers Big Sisters broadens its reach |

Nevada County Big Brothers Big Sisters broadens its reach

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John Hart | The Union


Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nevada County & North Lake Tahoe

Dena Valin:

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What is your mission statement?

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nevada County and North Lake Tahoe makes a positive difference in the lives of children and youth in our region through a professionally supported, one-to-one relationship with a caring and responsible individual. These mentors offer support to children’s growth and development through nurturing relationships, contributing to better schools, brighter futures and a stronger community for all.

What is your yearly budget, and how many paid employees do you have?

Our annual budget is approximately $275,000 and we have five employees.

What is your nonprofit’s history?

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Nevada County is a chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, a national nonprofit agency that was founded in 1904. Our local chapter was founded in 1981 and has served Western Nevada County ever since.

In July 2007, our agency received funding from the S.H. Cowell Foundation to expand our mentoring programs to Eastern Nevada County and surrounding communities in need, specifically to the Truckee and Kings Beach region.

Well over 1,000 local children have been matched with a Big Brother or Big Sister (“Big”) since our chapter was founded.

We serve over 200 children and youth on average each year with our expanded service area.

We always have a long waiting list of children needing Bigs, with the need for Big Brothers always being greater than the need for Big Sisters (although we can always use Big Sisters, too).

There will never be a shortage of local children in need of a supportive, caring individual who can be their role model and friend.

Who is your primary audience?

Clients served: At-risk children and youth ages 6-18 in Nevada County and North Lake Tahoe. These children are typically from low-income, single-parent families and are struggling in school academically, behaviorally and/or socially.

List the biggest achievements in your nonprofit’s history.

We are proud to have doubled the number of children served in our programs over the last eight years.

This is in part due to the expansion of our services to Eastern Nevada County in Truckee and North Lake Tahoe. It is also due to successful collaborations in general with other agencies, but in particular with other child-serving nonprofits and Nevada County Health and Human Services Department.

We are also proud of the fact that not only has our agency increased the number of children we serve, but the quality of our programs has only gotten stronger.

Our mentoring matches stay together almost twice as long as the national average, and our impact on children’s school performance, risk-taking behavior, and relationships with others is also very strong.

In 2009, our agency was one of 22 out of 400-plus agencies that received the Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Gold Standard Award for exceeding their standards of excellence in program quality and growth.

List the biggest challenges you face.

Our biggest challenge is raising enough funding to serve the incredible need for mentoring in our community. Our waiting list of children wanting and needing a Big Brother or Big Sister exceeds our capacity to serve them every year.

It also takes considerable resources to continue to serve the children already in our mentoring programs, which most people do not realize.

We provide regular, ongoing professional support to children, their mentors, and their families for the duration of their relationship — whether it lasts for one year or ten years.

Our other two challenges are the recruitment of Big Brothers (the number of boys on our waiting list always far exceeds the number of girls) and recruitment of board members with the time and commitment to ensure we are meeting our strategic goals.

What is your No. 1 short-term goal for the next year?

Build our capacity to sustain our existing programs and matches through increased fundraising and volunteer support.

What is your No. 1 long-term goal for the next three years?

To make our agency and programs financially stable and sustainable by raising enough revenue that we can maintain the quality of our programs while also compensating our employees at fair market value and building our reserve fund.

What are your major fundraisers and dates?

March 16, 2013: Bowl For Kids’ Sake at Prosperity Lanes, Grass Valley

May 18, 2013: Mountain Bike Endurance Ride, Nevada City

September 2013 (date TBD): 300 Miles for Mentoring

October 19, 2013: Bowl For Kids’ Sake at Bowl Incline, Incline Village

What is the best way a person interested in your organization could help?

We are always in need of Big Brother volunteers, event volunteers, and board and committee members in the areas of fund development, outreach and finance.

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