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Big Brothers Big Sisters Expand Positive Impact

July 9, 2018

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa Executive Director, Katie Orlando, and her staff are passionate about expanding the positive impact one-to-one mentoring has on children and their mentors.

In just two and a half years, the organization has gone from serving 160 kids in one-to-one mentorships per year to serving 580. They’ve also expanded their reach from Black Hawk and Bremer Counties to include Butler, Buchanan, Fayette, and Floyd Counties with more to come. All of this has earned the Waterloobased chapter national accolades including Big Brothers Big Sisters’ national agency of the year two years in a row and being named one of only seven Pinnacle Agencies out of 300 national chapters, and the only agency to do it three years in a row. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa has been a partner with the Community Foundation since the beginning, but the expansion of both organizations to surrounding counties has strengthened the regional partnership and impact.

"Primarily the reason we are able to expand into new counties i sthe support we've received from the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa and its affiliates and the networking the leaders at the Foundation have helped facilitate," said Katie Orlando, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa Executive Director. "We know there's a need and the connection with staff really helped us start and expand our brand and get comfortable in those counties. The funding is important but the nontangible things have been equally as important for us. Leveraging relationshis has been the number one benefit of our partnership."

In 2017 alone, CFNEIA and its affiliate foundations granted over $40,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeast Iowa. The organization also started two nonprofit agency funds with the Foundation in 2017 to create a stable long-term source of income.

“We serve any child who wants a mentor and the Community Foundation funding helps us do that. We appreciate the trust the Foundation puts in the partners they invest in to define their own community need. It allows us to not be grant-driven but mission-driven,” said Katie.