The nonprofit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington is asking local donors for help as the organization, which provides volunteer mentors for at-risk youth in Whatcom and Skagit counties, says decreased funding has put its programs in difficult financial straits.
A loss of funding has forced the nonprofit to cut its programs, lay off full-time staff and shrink its operating budget. The organization now reports that to remain financially viable, it needs at least 100 people to donate at least $80 on a monthly basis.
Directors with the organization said one of its most significant yearly grants, which totaled $84,696 in 2009, dropped to $4,689 in 2012. Another major grant, which averaged $184,879 annually, ended in 2010, according to the organization.
Individual contributions have also dwindled. Last year, the nonprofit brought in $14,947 from individual donors.
The combined losses were deciding factors in the organization suspending its well-regarded “School Buddies” program this year. The program offered mentorship to more than 100 children in nine local schools.
“While we don’t have a facility to showcase our program, the impacts to our community are profound,” Colleen Haggerty, the nonprofit’s executive director, said in a press release. “What we do changes lives. When a child thrives as they do with a mentor, the effects ripples into the community in positive ways. I don’t think this community wants to see us close our doors.”
For more information, call Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington at 360-671-6400, or visit www.bbbs-nw.org.
The nonprofit plans to host a pledge drive from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, June 8, in the beer garden at Boundary Bay Brewery in downtown Bellingham. The event will feature entertainment, raffles and food.