BBBS’ Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center
Building A Better Future
In 2016, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas will celebrate its 45th anniversary. As it does so, the agency will realize a dream that has been years in the making; that of creating a new, larger facility that will allow the organization to better serve children and families in Central Texas.
“Five years ago the BBBS Board realized we’d outgrown our current facilities and decided to launch a capital campaign to build a new mentoring center,” said Brent Fields, BBBS’ CEO. “Due to the generosity of a number of donors and supporters, that goal is now becoming a reality. We are proud to announce that construction of BBBS’ new Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center has begun.”
“This new space will allow us to serve more children, serve them better, offer more services, and strengthen our relationships with the community and with other community organizations,” Fields added.
Construction has started on the new center located in the “Rathgeber Children’s Village” at the former Robert Mueller Airport site in East Austin. BBBS hopes to move into the new facility, named after the project’s largest donors, Laura and Kyndel Bennett and Sara and Dick Rathgeber, by the fall of 2016.
Impact of the Mentoring Center
BBBS moved into its current facility in 1988. Since that time, the Central Texas population has grown exponentially, with the number of children under-18 and at-risk youth growing even more rapidly than the population as a whole. More kids need help than ever before. The new East Austin facility provides a means to offer that help.
“BBBS’ primary barriers to helping more children are funding and space,” said Fields. “Our current building compromises our ability to provide onsite programming, training, and enrichment activities for Bigs, Littles, and families. It has also limited our ability to grow our program to help more youth. On any given day BBBS has more than 600 children on our waiting list.”
The new Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center is a 20,000 square foot, state-of-the-art facility that will provide ample space for Bigs, Littles, families and staff to meet, interact and spend time together in one centralized location.
The building site at 4800 Manor Road is located near a large percentage of our current clients and is part of a demographic area that is growing. This site will increase service visibility and accessibility.
•A youth activity center where matches can do art projects, play games, participate in workshops, and spend time together.
•Room for additional staff to serve more children, families and volunteers.
•Meeting rooms for volunteer training and education, space for community organizations to meet after-hours, and private spaces where BBBS staff can conduct volunteer screenings.
•A combination of public and private spaces that will allow donors, families, volunteers and community members to visit BBBS’ offices to learn about our programs and access information and resources while maintaining the privacy of clients being served.
•Park space behind the building for recreational activities.
Community Collaboration – A Unique Partnership
The Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center is part of a master-planned nonprofit “Children’s Village” spearheaded by local realtor and philanthropist Dick Rathgeber. The “Village” is comprised of a collection of nonprofit organizations that serve children and families: Austin Children’s Services, The Rise School of Austin, SAFE Alliance, the Salvation Army and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas. The village is intended to provide a centralized location for the delivery of these services, leading to increased collaboration. The Mentoring Center is also within walking distance of several parks, hike and bike trails, and the Thinkery Children’s Museum.
Construction of the Mentoring Center is expected to be complete by the fall of 2016.
Leaning Into the Future – Making Connections
The Bennett-Rathgeber Mentoring Center is intended to “take BBBS’ work to the next level” by providing the agency with opportunities to serve more children and families, to add new services and to facilitate and deepen relationships between and among a wide range of individuals and groups. As BBBS looks to the future, agency staff, current and former board members, Bigs, Littles, families and agency friends are being invited to participate in “visioning sessions” to identify priorities for BBBS’ future work.
Two of the themes that have emerged from these sessions are those of interconnectivity and collaboration. Participants are excited about the many ways in which the new Mentoring Center will create and enrich relationships between and among those we serve and those we work with. For an agency that is built on, and devoted to, relationships, it seems fitting that our new Mentoring Center is viewed as a meeting place, a place where we can bring a greater number of people into meaningful connection with one another.
As we enter our 45th year, we are building on our past by celebrating the work and contributions that have brought us to this unique moment in time, embracing the present, and preparing for a brighter future…one that will allow us to make an even greater difference in our community.
Thank you for being part of our work.
Additional information, a current list of major donors, and photos and videos of the Mentoring Center’s construction progress can be found on our website here.