Several grants have been received recently by Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast:

• A grant from SunTrust Foundation-Tampa/Southwest Florida in the amount of $20,000 for its Beyond School Walls program.

In the BSW program high school students meet with mentors in a business setting, giving students the opportunity to experience what it means to work for a corporation, learn business etiquette and identify educational requirements for professional success. Ninety-six percent of seniors completing the program are continue their education, join the military or enter the work force.

• A $22,000 United Way South Sarasota County grant for its Beyond School Walls program.

The funds are for the students served in Osprey, Laurel, Nokomis, Venice, Englewood and North Port.

• A $15,000 grant from the Wilson-Wood Foundation for the Reading Bigs program serving children in the third through fifth grade. The Reading Bigs program is designed to foster a love of literature and aid in the development of grade-level reading skills for elementary school children at risk of failing Florida’s standardized reading tests.

Reading Bigs improves participants’ reading skills through a variety of reading activities that are specific to the child’s reading level and are monitored by Big Brothers Big Sisters and the child’s teacher to ensure progress. Ninety percent of the children maintained or improved reading proficiency.

• A $3,000 grant from the Wawa Foundation. Funds from the grant will support the Decisions to Win program in Lee, Manatee and Sarasota Counties.

In the DTW program an adult mentor from the community works one-to-one with a high school student in a focused, intensive course consisting of an 18-lesson workbook on personal decision-making.

In 2018, 95 percent of the students that participated in the program either graduated from high school or were promoted to the next grade.

• A $2,000 grant from the Heron Creek Community Foundation to support the Gateways To Graduation program in North Port. Gateways to Graduation serves eighth to 12th grade students who have been identified by school personnel as those at risk of not graduating or not being promoted to the next grade level. Volunteers provide weekly, one-to-one mentoring on each student’s school campus, helping the mentored youth to become academically motivated and to develop planning skills and goals.

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