Latest News

Big Brothers Big Sisters to launch “Reading to Learn” Initiative on Nov. 27


Program will support elementary students throughout East Tennessee, including in Bristol, Johnson City, and Kingsport

KNOXVILLE, TN (Nov. 26, 2018) – Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee (BBBS-ETN) will launch on Tuesday a new program aimed at improving literacy rates through mentorship.

The Reading to Learn initiative establishes a firm foundation for students at Title 1 schools in the Tri-Cities area. In partnership with Reading Buddies and the United Way of Bristol, R2L matches mentors with third, fourth, and fifth-grade students.

Bigs receive literacy-focused coaching, and BBBS-ETN will provide books for mentors to review with Littles during weekly, one-on-one meetings.

The Reading to Learn program is made possible through a gift by Don and Ginia Shawl.

“Ginia and I are thrilled to support the Big Brothers Big Sisters Reading to Learn program,” said Don Shawl. “We feel strongly that early education is a most important foundation for later learning. We’re excited to see the partnership between Big Brothers Big Sisters, United Way of Bristol, and Reading Buddies grow.”

BBBS-ETN aims to reach 25 students in the first year of the program.

“Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee is committed to serving more children in the Tri-Cities,” said BBBS-ETN CEO Brent Waugh. “In fact, we’ve set an aggressive goal of 20% growth over the next three years—the Reading to Learn program will serve as a key driver of this goal.”

The Reading to Learn initiative will officially launch during an event at Anderson School on Nov. 27.

Guests will include Bristol Mayor Margaret Feierabend; Bristol Tennessee City Schools Director of Schools Dr. Gary Lilly; United Way Bristol Executive Director Lisa Cofer; Reading Buddies Volunteer Coordinator Kay Ward; Anderson Elementary Principal Dr. Ginger Christian; and Don and Ginia Shawl.

What: Reading to Learn Launch

When: Tuesday, Nov. 27, 1:30-2 p.m.

Where: Anderson School (901 9th Street, Bristol)


  • Reading to Learn mentors and mentees
  • Bristol, TN officials, including Mayor Margaret Feierabend
  • Bristol Tennessee City Schools leadership
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee leadership and staff
  • Note: Photos will be available after the launch

Big Brothers Big Sisters will provide Reading to Learn in partnership with community partners including Anderson and Fairmount schools in Bristol, Jonesborough Elementary in Washington County, Mountain View Elementary in Johnson City, and Kennedy and Lincoln elementary schools in Kingsport. Additional partners including Girls Inc., Boys and Girls Club, and Tech Gyrls.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee (BBBS-ETN)

Big Brothers Big Sisters of East Tennessee defends potential in children through strong and enduring, professionally supported one‐to‐one relationships that change lives for the better, forever. Children enrolled in the program achieve measurable outcomes, including educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships. This mission has been the cornerstone of the organization’s 47-year history in the Knoxville area. Learn more at



adminBig Brothers Big Sisters to launch “Reading to Learn” Initiative on Nov. 27