Earlier this fall, the Community Foundation DeKalb County awarded Big Brothers Big Sisters of NE Indiana (BBBS) $4,000 for their Site-Based School Buddies Mentoring Program in DeKalb County. Funding will be used for recruiting, screening, supporting and training adult volunteers who will be paired in these one-to-one relationships with at-risk children in DeKalb County.
The School Buddies program matches at-risk elementary school students (ages 6-12) with caring adult mentors. School Buddies meet once a week for lunch at the child’s school during the academic year. The agenda is simple: eating lunch, doing homework, reading books, playing games, or simply spending time together talking about life. The time commitment is small – one hour once a week – but the benefit to the child is huge. In addition, a Pen Pal program is offered over the summer months to keep the communication active with the volunteer and child, since the Buddies do not meet in the community for events. This summer program allows the volunteers to maintain their bond, and the children feel they have a friend to write to during the summer. Guidance counselors and teachers provide more than 90% of the referrals of high-need children for the School Buddies program, as well as recommend the best location/atmosphere within the school for the match activities. In 2017, BBBS served 40 children through the Site-Based School Buddies program at six participating DeKalb County elementary schools.
Children served have the greatest need and least opportunity. The majority of the youth served demonstrate several risk factors: live in a single-parent family, live in poverty, have poor social relationships, have strained family relationships, and have academic or behavior problems. Of the youth served in DeKalb County in 2017, 51% were from single-parent households; 18% didn’t live with either parent (foster care or living with relatives/friends); 22% had an annual household income less than $10,000 a year; 63% less than $30,000 a year; 13% identified as a minority; and 16% had at least one parent incarcerated. The Agency continues to provide mentoring programs to the youth most in need.
The Community Foundation of DeKalb County promotes community philanthropy by offering local citizens the opportunity to create a charitable legacy that will sustain and improve life in our county. The gifts of many generous people allow the Community Foundation to award grants to nonprofit organizations for charitable projects and programs that address today’s needs and prepare for tomorrow’s challenges. The grants are focused on meeting the needs of the people in DeKalb County, Indiana. www.cfdekalb.org
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Indiana is a nonprofit organization that serves children in Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wells, and Whitley counties in Indiana and Branch and Hillsdale counties in Michigan. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported one to one relationships with measurable impact. To learn how you can positively impact a child’s life, donate or volunteer visit www.BBBSNEI.org.