Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capital Region

Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capital Region targets youth who are most at risk and prioritizes those from low-income, single-parent households. “The Community Foundation has a great interest in collaboration — both for ourselves and for the programs we support through grants,” said Dennis Fliehman, president and CEO of the Community Foundation. “It’s wonderful to see the impact of this project."

The Capital Region Community Foundation selected Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capital Region as the recipient of its $75,000 impact grant for 2012.

The organization is using the grant for its newly created Tri-County Quality Mentoring Demonstration Project. It is leading a collaboration with the YES Center in Eaton County, the Turning Point of Lansing and MSU Extension 4-H in Clinton County to match 75 new children with one-to-one mentors who will change their lives for the better, forever.

“There was a need for more one-to-one mentoring in these counties, but they didn’t have the capacity to develop it,” said Phil Knight, executive director of BBBSMCR. “We don’t do programming, we do mentoring. They’re doing what they do best, we’re doing what we do best. It’s been work, but it’s work that’s worth it. The trends we’ve established on both sides of collective impact have been life-changing for us. The Community Foundation has made that possible.”

The idea for the project came from Kelly Young, program director for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Leaders should see further and farther and faster, and Kelly absolutely did,” Knight said. “This is the trend in mentoring: Collective impact.”

“I’m really excited to see how things have come together,” Young said. “Still, I would say there’s a ways to go in terms of collaboration. I’ve discovered the nuances with individual counties with culture and community. It’s definitely not a cookie-cutter approach.”

BBBSMCR will create 25 new matches in each of the three counties; they are well on their way in Ingham County, Eaton County is coming along strong, but Clinton County has proven to be tougher.

“Normally it’s about money,” Knight said, referring to the challenge of creating matches. “This time, it’s all about mentors. If we had the ‘bigs’ in Clinton County, this story would be nothing but good news.”

Still, they are excited about the success of the collaboration.

“When you think about impact, it’s not just what happens in one calendar year,” Knight said. “It’s 75 kids you’ll be able to track until they graduate."

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