For more than 100 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters has operated under the belief that inherent in every child lies the ability to succeed and thrive in life. Most children served by Big Brothers Big Sisters live in single-parent and low-income families, or households where a parent is incarcerated. As the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network, Big Brothers Big Sisters makes meaningful, monitored matches between adult volunteers (“Bigs”) and children (“Littles”). Providing a system of ongoing evaluation and support, Big Brothers Big Sisters is proven by independent studies to help families by improving the odds that Littles will perform better in school and avoid violence and illegal activities, and have stronger relationships with their parents and others. Headquartered in Philadelphia with a network of nearly 400 agencies across the country, Big Brothers Big Sisters serves a quarter million children annually.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Miami Valley (BBBSGMV) was started in 1958 and now serves over 450 youth in one-to-one mentoring matches making the agency the largest mentoring organization in the region. BBBSGMV are one of 370 affiliates of Big Brothers Big Sisters nationwide, following a set of 22 service delivery and administrative standards, and receiving national and network-wide support through reports, research, marketing techniques, program development, fund raising, and financial management resources provided by the BBBS of America national staff and affiliate partners. Each day, the BBBSGMV team strives to help children achieve success in academics, work readiness, and healthy lifestyles through professionally supported, one-to-one mentoring relationships.
Littles begin in the program between age 7 and 14 and the matches may extend to age 18. Coming from the four counties of the Miami Valley, both parents and teachers refer children to our mentoring programs. The children come to BBBSGMV with risk factors including living in a single adult-headed household, living at or below the poverty level, and/or having one or both parents incarcerated. Fifty-one percent of our matched children are of color, 63% are girls and 37% boys.
After 57 years of serving Miami in rental facilities, the Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami Foundation, Inc. secured a pledge to gain site control for a facility to become the organizations home.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Miami Valley utilized UDF’s investment to transform their new facility into an educational-mentoring resource center. Now known as the Carnival Center for Excellence, the new headquarters for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Miami provide a huge boost to kids that are mentored in the South Florida area
The building location was selected because it is conveniently located on a major thoroughfare with access to public transportation and free ground-level parking.
The Carnival Center for Excellence opened early winter 2016 and costs for building and design totaled $7,000,000. The organization initially plans to use about 23,000 square feet of the 43,000-square-foot facility and lease out the rest.
UDF was able to utilize $6.4M in FL State NMTC and $6.5M in Federal NMTC in a stacked structure to provide $6.5M in subordinate loans to BBBSGMV. The loans included several flexible features, including below-market rates of 1% and interest only payments for the term of the loan. The borrower had the option at the end of the compliance period to purchase UDF’s outstanding debt for $1,000, giving BBBSGMV a solid financial foundation to ensure their future success.
The project is located in a severely distressed census tract with a 95% minority population. Due to UDF’s investment, BBBSGMV will be able to serve 5,000 children annually. The project created 25 permanent jobs and 52 temporary construction jobs. All employees receive health care benefits, and BBBSGMV estimates that 75% of the employees are low-income at the time of hire.
The Carnival Center for Excellence features:
- “You Media” creative area for music, video and digital learning. There’s also a state of the art computer lab and space for homework and tutoring. The center aims to help nurture talent in Miami and expand opportunities for teens interested in tech careers. It is able to do this by providing participants wide access to computers, Internet, and digital media tools to promote learning and the development of tech skills in areas such as sound recording, video production, the creation of mobile applications and photography. The digital learning center helps bridge the digital divide that exists for many of the families in the service area, where many of them live way below the federal poverty level
- Miami HEAT Big Fitness Room- a $350,000 state-of-the-art fitness space donated by the National Basketball Association’s Miami HEAT Charitable Fund to promote health and wellness to BBBS participants outfitted with exercise equipment, free weights and activity space
- The Trish and Dan Bell Enrollment and Matching Center houses the organization’s core mentor-student matching function
- The Kennedy Family Resource Room and the Bank of America Career Resource Room provide services to help families and children plan for their future
- The Gorson Family Wing on the second floor serves as the main BBBS boardroom for key leadership strategy meetings and gatherings
- The Big Café/Hospitality center – a restaurant setting to provide training through internship opportunities for Littles pursuing careers in the hospitality field
- Additional services are to be phased in, and tutoring and family classes will be introduced during the first year of operation in collaboration with several corporate and nonprofit partners
Numerous studies have shown the positive outcome for those involved with BBBS programs. The results of the studies reflect the following:
Researchers found that after 18 months of spending time with their Bigs, the Little Brothers and Little Sisters, compared to those children not in the program, were:
46% less likely to begin using illegal drugs
27% less likely to begin using alcohol
52% less likely to skip school
37% less likely to skip a class
33% less likely to hit someone
Studies also show Littles were more confident of their performance in schoolwork and getting along better with their families. Programs were found to focus less on specific problems after they occur, and more on meeting youths’ most basic developmental needs. Interestingly, the studies seeming show that the activities don’t necessarily matter the most to the children. It was the fact that they had a caring adult in their lives. With someone to confide in and look up to they were, in turn, doing better in school and at home. And at a time in their lives when even small choices can change the course of their future, the Littles were also avoiding violence and substance abuse. These children believe in themselves because a Big believed in them.
The program also awards four-year college scholarships to 15 participating students every year. Since 2010, 75 scholarships have been awarded, and in 2014 several students from the first group of recipients graduated college
The facility will help the non-profit continue to have a profound and positive impact on the lives of young people in South Florida for decades to come. Big Brothers Big Sisters Miami works with more than 2,100 pairs of mentors and youths every year and this facility allows that number to continue to grow.