Meeting the Financial Need
for Mentors

By Itzel Cordoba

It is 5:15pm on a Thursday afternoon. Liane Cooper is now arriving at her cozy townhouse on the edge of the Tennessee River. She has had a very long day of work at Big Brother Big Sister trying to figure out how to spend all the money her organization has. She also has to figure out if the funding the organization currently has will be enough to get them through the year. 

There are over 52,000 youth organizations all across the United States. These organizations serve those who are in need of mentorship or some sort of extra curricular activity. Millions upon millions of children in the United states participate in these organizations. About 23 percent of families in the United States have their children enrolled in after school programs. In Chattanooga, one of the biggest youth organizations is called Big Brother Big Sister. For over 63 year, Big Brother Big Sister has been flourishing in the Chattanooga area.

Cooper is currently a year and a half into her job as the office manager for Big Brother Big Sister. She previously worked in a laboratory at Erlanger Hospital, which was shut down during the COVID-19 outbreak. When she was laid off, she searched for a job where she would be able to help others in difficult situations. She searched for a job where she could give back to the community. That was when she found Big Brother Big Sister. 

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Liane Cooper is the Office Manager at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga.

Cooper knew that a position at a non-profit organization wouldn’t be a big money maker, but she wanted to be in a place where she could help others. She has always loved being around other children and has two daughters. She hopes to have both her daughters mentor younger kids who are in need of those role models in their life. 

According to the 2019 Big Brothers Big Sisters of America Annual Impact Report,

57 percent of all the Littles in the BBBS program come from a single parent household, and over 50 percent of the Littles come from a minority background. About 77 percent of the Littles qualify for the free lunch programs in school. Studies show that those students who participate in BBBS are 46 percent less likely to use illegal drugs and 52 percent less likely to skip school. The one-to-one mentorship really helps those kids who need a strong role model in their life. 

 

Cooper’s role at BBBS is related to the need for funding in youth organizations by doing the majority of the banking in the organization. Since BBBS is a national organization, it can apply for grants directly from the national organization. Cooper’s work lets the national organization know how they are spending in order to continue to receive money from said grants. Cooper also mentions the organization’s fundraising opportunities, such as a golf tournament and a bowling party. At these events, BBBS receive money to help them continue to flourish as an organization. People can also directly donate to their website to help the organization. Cooper motivates those who are old enough to become big and mentor a child who needs a strong person in their life. 

Cooper believes it is important for youth to have a steady and strong role model or mentor in their lives. Many of the students who participate in these programs are in need of a steady mentor. She wants to continue to do anything possible to provide those kids with a place to have these mentors. 

As Cooper manages how much money is spent and reports it to those who sponsor them, she admits that during the Covid-19 crisis the organization actually continued to grow, unlike many other organizations. BBBS actually hired people during the pandemic, and thanks to their loyal sponsors, they were able to continue providing care for all of their children and mentors. When prioritizing distancing was necessary, BBBS provided children with mentors from the safety of their own home. Many of the Bigs and Littles got together during the pandemic via Zoom. “It fills a need for some kids who don’t have a stable home life,” Cooper says. 

This year Cooper will continue to help Big Brother Big Sister raise money to continue the wonderful work they are doing. Her ambition is a very strong factor in the way she works and she only seeks to do the best in her job in order to give back to those in need of a mentor and friend.