Looking Back: 2023 Year in Review
Looking Back: 2023 Year in Review
Before ringing in the new year, we would like to take some time to reflect on, and to celebrate, some of the agency’s major achievements this past year. Here are just a few of the many things that we have accomplished together.
January is a season of new beginnings, and it is the perfect time to celebrate our volunteers, the Bigs who make our work possible. January is also National Mentoring Month, and it is during this time that we announce our Central Texas Bigs and Littles of the Year. Our 2023 Matches of the Year were Big Sister Alli and her Little Sister Kiyah; and Big Brother Dean and his Little Brother Erick. Both matches have developed special bonds during their relationships, and both expressed surprise and gratitude at having been selected.
Our 40th Annual Bowl for Kids event took place in the spring. This bowling extravaganza is a highlight of the year as BBBS friends and supporters turn out to support our mission and to have a lot of fun at the same time. “Saved By the Bowl” was the 2023 theme. Bowlers showed up in their best 90’s-wear and paid tribute to Bayside High, and to Screech, Zach, and Slater. The two-day event involved over 320 participants and raised more than $120,000 to provide mentoring relationships for kids in our community. Several additional pre-event activities were also offered, including a concert by the Spazmatics and a trivia night.
In June we hosted our 37th Annual Promising Futures Scholarship Ceremony. More than 60 guests gathered at the ACC Highland campus to recognize the educational success of our Littles. $185,000 in scholarship funds was made available to 55 of our graduating high school seniors and $98,500 was committed to 43 newly promised Littles (Promisees). These funds will become available once they graduate high school.
Thanks to special grant funding, most of the agency’s staff was able to attend BBBSA’s National Conference in Anaheim, California in June. This was a valuable professional development experience as our team had the opportunity to learn from, and to network with, other BBBS staff members and agencies from across the nation.
Although August is one of the hottest months in Texas, it signals two cool BBBS events. The first is Hobie Day, an event that offers Bigs, Littles and their families an opportunity to spend the day at Lake Travis and the chance to ride on Hobie catamarans. The event is made possible with volunteer support from the AustinCats sailing group. Over 100 matches, family members, volunteers and staff came together for a beautiful day of sailing, swimming, and a picnic lunch. For many Littles, it was their first time on a boat.
Our second cool August event was BBBS’ annual Ice Ball Gala, celebrating its 19th year. Over 700 people gathered at the JW Marriott for this signature event, raising over $1.1 million to support kids in our community. The event also included a wonderful surprise gift of $250,000 to begin a BBBS Endowment fund. A major highlight of the evening was the Mission Moment which featured the story of Little Sister Kiyah and her Big Sister Alli. Their mentoring journey truly exemplified the purpose of the entire evening.
The Gala also provided an important opportunity to announce BBBS’ biggest news of the year, the hiring of our new CEO, Kedrick Jeffries. It was the perfect place for many of those who are close to the agency to meet and welcome Kedrick to the mission.
Kedrick has now settled into his new leadership role and is laying the groundwork for 2024. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to lead this awesome team,” said Kedrick. “We are poised to take the agency and our mission to the next level.”
One major area of focus for 2024 is that of serving even more children. In 2023 BBBS provided over 700 children in Central Texas with caring, supportive adult mentors. Plans are already underway to recruit more Bigs in the new year in order to move kids off our waiting list and into the mentoring relationships that can help them realize their potential.
In addition, our Big Futures program is continually working to expand the help we offer our students upon graduation, to further support their success as they transition into adulthood. For the past year, Big Futures has supported over 120 mentees, providing them with resources such as laptops for college, as well as college application instruction via a partnership with College Contact, a company that helps students navigate the requirements necessary to get accepted into the college of their choice. In addition, the program has also offered several events to provide guidance on life skills such as car maintenance.
We could not have realized this year’s accomplishments, nor prepared to grow our impact in 2024 however, without the amazing support of our volunteers, donors, partners, staff, Executive Board, Foundation Board, Big Impact Group, and friends. Your involvement continues to help children in Central Texas change their lives for the better, forever.
We are looking forward to amplifying our work in 2024 so that we can match more children with caring adult mentors who can help them achieve their biggest possible futures.