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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia will close, citing financial difficulties

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia will close, citing financial difficulties

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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia will close next month, but Total Action for Progress will take over several of its services, including the signature one-on-one mentoring program, the two organizations announced Tuesday in a joint news release.

The local Big Brothers Big Sisters board of directors made the decision to disaffiliate from the national organization after years of declining donations and grant funding exacerbated by the pandemic, according to the release. The closure is effective Jan. 31.

“While this was a difficult decision, after careful consideration we feel this is the right move to prioritize our children and the mission,” board President Laura Carini said. “While we are sad to close the area’s largest and longest running youth mentoring program, we are confident it is the right choice. We are forever grateful to TAP and confident the organization provides the experience and resources necessary to best serve our children.”

TAP will facilitate the mentoring program’s 50 current matches, according to the release. The program will be renamed “Super Hero Kids Connections,” a component of TAP’s Super Hero Kids program. The name change is due to the expense of using the Big Brothers Big Sister name and branding, the news release stated.

TAP will also take over the after-school tutoring program, in-school mentoring program and outdoor adventures that are partnerships with the local school systems and Roanoke Parks and Recreation.

Big Brothers Big Sisters has roots in Roanoke dating back to the 1950s.

The first Big Brothers group was created in 1953, according to the organization’s website. It became affiliated with Big Brothers of America in 1968 after years of inactivity, and in 1979 became Big Brothers Big Sisters of Roanoke Valley.

The group merged with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the New River Valley in 2002 to become Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia, according to the website.

“TAP commends Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Virginia for its outstanding history of providing opportunities for the lives of both children and adults to be enriched,” said TAP President Annette Lewis. “We regret that BBBS has to close and will do our best to continue the important mentoring work that has begun. TAP also looks forward to working with the current partners and adding new ones.”

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K-12 Education Reporter

Claire Mitzel covers K-12 education for The Roanoke Times. Contact her at (540) 981-3334 or claire.mitzel@roanoke.com. Follow her on Twitter: @c_mitzel.

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