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Lightning Foundation Grant Spotlight: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay

by Erin Chenderlin / Tampa Bay Lightning
On April 23, the Lightning Foundation awarded grants to 16 local organizations totaling $120,500 at the Community Awards and Donor Recognition Reception. Grant applicants were asked to detail their organizations and give a proposed program or project, along with a description of how it qualifies under the Lightning Foundation's funding guidelines. The Foundation's Board of Directors selected the 16 organizations. is profiling each of the organizations and the grant they received. Check back daily for a new organization and see how the Lightning Foundation is truly fulfilling its mission to make Tampa Bay a better place to live, work and play.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay

The Lightning Foundation awarded a first-time grant to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay, Inc. to help provide funding for their Comprehensive Mentoring Program.

The Lightning Foundation granted funds that will support five volunteer matches in the mentoring program here in Tampa Bay. It is hoped that the grant award will also be used to help bring in funding for an additional five mentor matches. The goal for the children working with the mentoring program is that they will develop increased social and emotional growth.

"We really hope that this grant will help us build capacity and enable us to build our partnerships," said Michelle Williers, director of grant writing and management for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay.

"By having the Lightning Foundation as another partner in the community, to us, it's another avenue for us to market our brand of mentoring, get our name out there and bring in volunteers to help us serve the kids."

Big Brothers Big Sisters offers two kinds of mentoring, both of which will be supported by the Lightning Foundation grant. Community mentoring involves a volunteer being with a child nine hours a month and taking them to experience different things throughout the community, such as parks and sporting events. Site-based mentoring is a one-hour per week program where the volunteers meet with the children at their school or at an after-school program and spend time in that setting. The volunteers help with homework, build relationships with the kids and act as a mentor for the child in the school setting, Williers said.

The mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters is to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-on-one mentoring relationships with a measurable impact.

Williers said the program was excited not only about the grant money, but about the relationship being built with the Lightning Foundation. "With this partnership, we hope to continue to build our program and serve more kids," she said.

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