Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri approved for tax credits

Friday, July 3, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri is one of 10 Missouri organizations that has been approved to receive a chunk of Youth Opportunities Program tax credits from the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Big Brothers Big Sisters will receive $85,000 in credits. The tax credit program had an available total of $996,995.

Georgalu Swoboda, executive director of the Central Missouri branch, said Big Brothers Big Sisters has had tax credits before, and the last one ended in March.

Donors to the organization who give at least $500 and register for the Youth Opportunities Program will get half of their contribution back on their tax return.

“For some people it’s an incentive to give; they can give $1000 and it only costs them $500,” Swoboda said. “It’s an economically tight time for all of us. This is a way one can make a contribution."

Swoboda said they’d like to use donations this year toward “enhanced mentoring” with girls.

“Girls have issues with self-esteem and leadership roles,” she said. “It’s still in the planning stages. We’re looking into how we can help the mentors help the girls.”

Last year, the emphasis was on finding mentors for boys, which make up 58 percent of the approximately 1,300 children in the program.

Swoboda said she’d like to work with people outside the organization as well.

“We’re hoping we can find community groups that will want to work with girls,” she said. “Community groups like women’s groups, girl scouts and any other groups.”

Big Brothers Big Sisters serves children of single parents, children of prisoners and foster children as part of their community-based program, Swoboda said. As part of their school-based program,teachers from elementary and middle schools can refer children to the program, she said.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is a nonprofit organization that works to create one-on-one relationships between at-risk children and a role-model mentor. It is the oldest and largest youth mentoring program in the United States, according to its Web site.

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