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Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee receives $25,000 grant from Walmart Foundation

Knoxville Daily Sun, November 18, 2016 at 9:58 a.m.
KNOXVILLE – On Thursday, November 17, Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee received a $25,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program to assist with its Mentor 2.0 program. The Mentor 2.0 program focuses on college readiness and success for high school students — particularly those who are slated to become first-generation college students.

“Statistics show mentoring can change a child’s life,” said Doug Kose, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee. “And students who have a mentor are 90 percent more likely to enroll in college.”

The Mentor 2.0 program was launched at South-Doyle High School earlier this year with plans to expand it to other high schools in the future. Adult mentors are paired with ninth grade students they mentor throughout their four years of high school. Mentors and mentees communicate through weekly writing activities, discussing important topics such as professionalism, perseverance, self-advocacy, college financial aid, and career choices. In addition to email communication, mentors and students meet in person monthly.

“With the support of this grant from the Walmart Foundation, we’re focusing on the steps it takes to ensure these students become successful adults, which involves more than just academic preparation,” said Whitney Baker, Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor 2.0 program director. “We look forward to growing this program to help even more East Tennessee students successfully navigate the path to a college education.”

“At the Walmart Foundation, we understand that organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee are essential to building stronger communities. They share our values and are committed to helping young people to live better,” said Janet Bales, Walmart store manager and member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters board of directors. “Through this donation, Knoxville youth will benefit from the structured guidance of mentors focused on helping them get to college.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee has been transforming the lives of children since 1970 as a member agency of the oldest and largest youth mentoring organization in the United States, consisting of more than 350 agencies nationwide.

The Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program supports organizations that create opportunities so people can live better, awarding grants that have a long-lasting, positive impact on communities across the U.S.

To be considered for support, perspective grantee organizations must submit applications through the Walmart Foundation State Giving Program’s online grant application. Applicants must have a current 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in order to meet the program’s minimum eligibility criteria. Additional information about the program’s funding guidelines and application process are available online at

Over the last fiscal year, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation gave more than $35.7 million in cash and in-kind contributions to support nonprofit organizations and programs in Tennessee focused on fighting hunger and healthy eating, workforce development, disaster preparedness and other needs specific to many Tennessee communities. The Tennessee contributions are one piece of the $1.42 billion dollars total giving by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation during FY16.

Published November 18, 2016

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