It is truly bittersweet as we celebrate our beloved colleague and Match Support Specialist extraordinaire, Anne Marie McMullen, as she officially retires after 38 years of dedicated service to Big Brothers Big Sisters. That’s right … nearly four decades of positively impacting local youth.

Anne Marie’s first day with Big Brothers Big Sisters was back on January 1st of 1984. This was the same year that the original Apple Macintosh personal computer went on sale, the US accomplished its first untethered spacewalk, Ronald Reagan became President of the United States, and Prince’s hit song, “When Doves Cry,” rose to number one on the Billboard 100.

During her tenure, Anne Marie navigated through three mergers and helped hundreds of New Jersey youth work with their Big Brothers and Big Sisters to overcome major obstacles and achieve success in life. She also started the St. Stephen’s School-Based program, a unique mentoring program where high school students mentor elementary students.

We can’t even begin to count the number of support calls, interviews, trainings, picnics, parent sessions, or recruiting pitches that Anne Marie has completed over the years, but we do know that our staff members love her. Here’s what a few of them had to say:

“She loved her St. Stephens program and her Bigs loved her too! She had many former Bigs that would visit her program to just to say hi and welcome new matches to the program.”

“Anne Marie hosted several Bridging the Summer Gap Programs with her St. Stephens program. One experience that stands out was watching Anne Marie have more fun than the kids on the trampoline!”

“At the start of the pandemic, Anne Marie changed her work schedule to 11-7 to be available to talk with parents after 5pm. I remember her saying that she felt it was important to be there for the Littles and their families during difficult times and that’s why she had no problems working late.”

“She spent many hours personally going through training materials to recommend which ones would be good to help Bigs enhance their understanding of Diversity Equity and Inclusion.”

“She is always willing to help whenever needed. She has covered match support for countless program caseloads over the years and helped other teams when they were really short-staffed.”

“Something that always stands out to me with Anne Marie is how well she connected with the parents and guardians with kids enrolled in our programs. She truly cares about the whole family of the children we serve.”

“Above all, Anne Marie has been a treasure to this agency and the youth she has served all these years! She is one-of-a-kind and she will leave a lasting impact on this agency.”

Please join us as we congratulate Anne Marie on her retirement!

PHILADELPHIA – Programs that help address the local/region’s issues around youth mentorship, economic mobility and academic and workforce development for low-income communities will be able to scale, helping even more people through a multi-year grant from Bank of America. Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence and Graduate! Philadelphia have been named as the 2021 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders® awardees for their work in the Greater Philadelphia community addressing these issues.

As a Neighborhood Builder, each organization receives a $200,000 grant over two years, comprehensive leadership training for the executive director and an emerging leader on topics ranging from increasing financial sustainability, human capital management and strategic storytelling, joins a network of peer organizations across the U.S., and gets the opportunity to access capital to expand their impact. The program continues to be the nation’s largest investment into nonprofit leadership development.

Since 1915, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence has been matching youth in meaningful, enduring, professionally supported mentoring relationships with compassionate adult volunteers. Through community-based and school-based youth mentoring programs, 2,200 children are served annually in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties in PA, and Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties in NJ.

Graduate! Philadelphia was born in 2005 to ensure that low-income families did not get left behind by a changing economy. Unlike any other nonprofit organization in the region, Graduate! Philadelphia works at the seams of both academic and workforce credentialing to address both the short- and long-term needs of families. Amidst a poverty rate that hovers just above 24%, Graduate! Philadelphia’s education and workforce services are critical to mitigate the persistent tide of unemployment, underemployment, and income stagnation for Black and Latinx Philadelphians, among other low-wage racial demographics.

“As communities continue to recover and navigate a changing landscape, nonprofits are still experiencing significant demands and are in need of resources to help meet critical local needs like youth mentorship and academic and workforce development,” said Jim Dever, president, Bank of America Greater Philadelphia. “Big Brothers Bigs Sisters Independence and Graduate! Philadelphia are helping bridge important gaps for individuals and families to help them chart a path toward economic opportunity and stability. Programs like Neighborhood Builders helps these organizations grow sustainably and strategically for greater positive impact in the community.”

“Most youth we serve come from low-income, single-parent homes. Eighty-two percent are from ethnic minority backgrounds. Many attend schools that lack resources and have overwhelmed teachers and administrators. We know that mentorship can help fill that void and ignite their full potential,” said Marcus Allen, executive director, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence. “Decades of research have shown the beneficial impact of having a caring, committed adult mentor to help these youth overcome obstacles and envision a successful future. With this support, we are enabled to reach even more youth in the Greater Philadelphia region and match them with the resources and relationships they need to thrive.”

“At Graduate! Philadelphia, we believe that our vision is only limited by our imagination,” said Malik Brown, president and CEO, Graduate! Philadelphia. “Being a Neighborhood Builder recipient allows us to bolster our work to promote educational attainment and workforce preparation as well as build deep community relationships that will have a lasting impact.”

Since 2004, Bank of America has invested over $280 million in 50 communities through Neighborhood Builders, partnering with more than 1,400 nonprofits and helping more than 2,800 nonprofit leaders strengthen their leadership skills. Here in Greater Philadelphia, 29 nonprofits have been selected as a Neighborhood Builder, with the bank investing more than $5 million into these local organizations through the program.

The invitation-only program is highly competitive, and leading members of the community participated in a collaborative selection process to identify this year’s awardees. Neighborhood Builders is just one example of how Bank of America deploys capital in communities, builds cross-sector partnerships, and promotes socioeconomic progress as part of its approach to responsible growth.

Bank of America
At Bank of America, we’re guided by a common purpose to help make financial lives better, through the power of every connection. We’re delivering on this through responsible growth with a focus on our environmental, social and governance (ESG) leadership. ESG is embedded across our eight lines of business and reflects how we help fuel the global economy, build trust and credibility, and represent a company that people want to work for, invest in and do business with. It’s demonstrated in the inclusive and supportive workplace we create for our employees, the responsible products and services we offer our clients, and the impact we make around the world in helping local economies thrive. An important part of this work is forming strong partnerships with nonprofits and advocacy groups, such as community, consumer and environmental organizations, to bring together our collective networks and expertise to achieve greater impact. Learn more at about.bankofamerica.com, and connect with us on Twitter (@BofA_News).

Tuesday, May 25, 2021 – Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence (BBBS Independence) announced today it has launched an exciting new fundraising and awareness campaign called Miles for Mentoring, in partnership with Beasley Media Group and presented by The Higgins Group. The goal of the campaign is to raise critical funding to support the work BBBS Independence is doing within the communities it serves and bring awareness to the over 750 children currently waiting to be matched with a mentor and role model. The agency is especially in need of male volunteers to mentor youth in Greater Philadelphia and South Jersey.

The campaign will kick off on June 5th as BBBS Independence CEO, Marcus Allen, and Governing Board member, Gary Jonas, embark on a 3,700 mile ride from San Francisco, California to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Beasley Media Group is partnering with the agency and will host a Radiothon on June 9th, where popular affiliate stations including The Preston & Steve Show, The Anthony Gargano Show, 92.5 XTU, 102.9 MGK, and 95.7 BEN FM will share the BBBS Independence mission while trying to raise $100,000 and recruit 100 adult mentors. The campaign will culminate on July 23rd with a celebration event in Atlantic City, New Jersey which will be hosted by Beasley Media Group.

Throughout the seven week duration of the 3,700 mile journey, BBBS Independence will also be mobilizing with Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliates across the country, highlighting the universal message of BBBS’s mission – igniting the power and promise of youth. Over 30,000 children are waiting for a mentor across the United States and BBBS Independence is utilizing this campaign to help as many of them as possible. Additionally, the seven weeks will include weekly dispatches from the road updating the audience on the riders’ progress and one mission-focused piece highlighting the campaign’s theme of the week:

Individuals can find out how to get involved with the campaign by visiting MILES.GIVESMART.COM or by contacting Rachele Armstrong at rarmstrong@independencebigs.org. Donations can be made via the website above or by texting the word MILES to 76278.

BBBS Independence will also kickoff a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign during the final seven days of the coast-to-coast ride, July 16-23. This will be an open invitation for those who wish to support BBBS Independence to join one of seven teams competing to see who can raise the most funds during the final days of the campaign. For more information or to join a team, please contact Bailey Wood at bwood@independencebigs.org.

About Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence
Since 1915, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence has been creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Big Brothers Big Sisters’ evidence-based approach is designed to create positive youth outcomes, including educational success, avoidance of risky behaviors, higher aspirations, greater confidence, and improved relationships. Through its community-based and school-based youth mentoring programs, more than 2,200 children are served annually in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties in Pennsylvania, and Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties in New Jersey. In 2015, the organization created MENTOR Independence Region to work collaboratively with external organizations to fuel the quality and quantity of mentoring relationships for greater Philadelphia’s young people and close the mentoring gap. Learn how to get involved at www.independencebigs.org.

About Beasley Media Group
Beasley Media Group (BMG), LLC, a subsidiary of Beasley Broadcast Group, Inc., is a multiplatform media company providing advertising and digital marketing solutions across the United States. BMG owns 62 radio properties located in 15 large and medium markets across the country, as well as offers capabilities in audio technology, esports, podcasting, ecommerce and events. Beasley Media Group reaches more than 20 million consumers on a weekly basis. For more information, please visit www.bbgi.com.

About The Higgins Group
The Higgins Group, Inc. is an executive search and consulting firm focused exclusively in the life sciences. For over two decades we’ve been helping our clients thrive by going beyond recruiting the best leaders: as a strategic partner we consult on organizational issues that affect executive integration, retention, and performance. This approach has led to long-lasting relationships with a select roster of global pharmaceutical and biotech clients, helping us to grow exclusively through referrals since 1998. For more information, please visit www.higgins-group.com.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (the Act) provides immediate assistance to individuals and families with children in the form of cash payments outright in the coming months or benefits claimed on your 2021 tax return. These benefits are for 2021 only and are intended to lessen the impact from COVID-19 and provide much needed assistance to individuals and families with children. All are based on the level of income you report and are reduced as income exceeds certain limits.

Dependent Care Assistance
The credit for child/dependent care expenses you pay is increased so that up to $8,000 of expenses for one child and $16,000 of expenses for two or more children are eligible. The credit is increased from 20% of expenses to 50% of expenses meaning that 50% of expenses incurred create a dollar for dollar credit against 2021 income tax. If the credit exceeds your income tax you receive the excess in a check from the government. The available credit phases out as joint income exceeds $125,000. Just to compare, the credit in 2020 was limited to $600 per child based on expenses of $3,000 (that is a credit of 20%). The Act was specific in its intent to helps families afford to pay child care expenses This credit is taken on your filed 2021 tax return. It is not an advance of funds during 2021.

Advances of Funds:

Third Economic Impact Payment
The attached link is the best and quickest way to understand the third Economic Impact Payment otherwise known as COVID-19 recovery payments. If you received the first ($1,200 per adult and $500 per child) or second payments ($600 per adult and $600 per child) during 2020 you should be receiving the third ($1,400 per adult and $1,400 per child). The payments are based on tax filing information. You should file your 2020 tax return now. The IRS has websites to assist you in filing and there are many tax site preparation sites on-line. Alternatively, visit a national tax preparation firms such as H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt. The three Economic Impact Payments are not additional income to you. But the only way for the government to know you qualify is to file a tax return. If possible, supply direct deposit information to funds can be wired.

Link: Third Economic Stimulus

Advance of 2021 Extra Child Credit
The other advance of funds is directed to families with children. The extra 2021 child care credit equals $1,600 for children under 6 (those children who have not attained the age of 6 as of December 31, 2021) and $1,000 for children under 18. The extra credit is in addition to the $2,000 credit which applies to dependents under age 18. Beginning this Summer, the additional credit will be advanced through direct deposit to you (again a good reason to immediately provide this information on your 2020 tax return) or otherwise paid before the filing of your 2021 tax return.

Filing a tax return provides the Internal Revenue Service with sufficient information to process the various credits. Despite the filing deadline being extended for 2020 until May 17, 2021, please file quickly. As with all government benefits there is a wide variety of phase outs for those who do and who do not qualify. Most phase-outs are based on your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) on line 11 of the tax return. You will generally qualify for the above payments and credits if you are single with AGI up to $75,000 or married with AGI up to $150,000.

Most likely the extra credits and stimulus will end in 2021. Please be vigilant in follow through for these funds and have a plan for the best use of the resources that are provided. It has been a difficult time and we hope the future is brighter for everyone.

Article courtesy of Mitchell E. Benson, CPA, MT, CFF
Partner, Savran Benson, LLP

Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Family

Walter Wallace, Jr. should be alive today. Like so many others, he struggled with mental health – a young Black man in crisis. Instead of providing the care and support he needed, he was shot by Philadelphia police officers in the street in front of his mother and neighbors who loved him. He was the victim of a broken system.

This same story keeps repeating itself over and over again, in Philadelphia and across the country. It is infuriating and frustrating, particularly because incidents like this one are easily avoidable. Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence stands with our West Philadelphia neighbors in their grief and anger at another life senselessly taken through police violence. Failure here has many masters: the disregard given to mental health care, the poor training of the police meant to protect our communities, and the decades of normalized violence by the Philadelphia Police Department. But ultimately, this is a continuation of structural and systemic racism and class oppression that claimed the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and so many more.

Black Lives Matter

In order to create a future of freedom, justice, and equality for all, we all have work to do to fight systemic racism and oppressive systems holding us back. That work begins with a solutions-oriented approach, aimed toward breaking the cycles of police brutality, racial inequality, social inequity and poverty. The policies and laws that exist in this country do not fully represent or benefit marginalized people. This has to change.

Communities must also believe there is hope. Hope is seeing young people fighting for what they believe in. Hope is witnessing so many Black, Brown and White allies coming together to say “this is not right.” These times require definitive change and immediate response. Moving forward, here is how Big Brothers Big Sisters’ leadership and staff will take action:

We have a lot of work to do. Our families are hurting. Our city is hurting. We are at a pivotal moment in history. In the meantime, Walter Wallace, Jr. will be laid to rest on November 7th. We hope that his family, his friends and the West Philadelphia community can, with time, heal from this tragic loss.

#BiggerTogether

Recently I was walking home from my office in Center City Philadelphia and noticed something peculiar. I have walked past the Philadelphia School District Building at 440 N. Broad St. at least 3 times a week when the weather is nice. However, recently I began to pay attention to the fact that the School District Building is physically attached to the future location of the new Police Headquarters. There are several public issues that are currently being debated about this move, most noted is the amount the building was bought for by the City without an independent appraisal of the value. Yes, this is worth further discussion, but I am concerned about something more important and more detrimental to the psyche of a community that has been ravaged by the disinvestment in our children.

A couple of weeks ago I went on Fox 29 to talk about the recent youth violence we’ve seen at public transit stops when our young people are dismissed from school. I gave several solutions that I believe could help decrease some of the incidents that keep happening. My question now, given the visual of having a future jailhouse physically connected to the central School District Headquarters at minimum makes me cringe. As organizations and advocates decry systems and policies that create pipelines from school to prison, how dare we as Philadelphians even fathom the visual of having our school physically connected to a jailhouse. How can that be? I hope well before the building is complete that our leaders understand that we cannot allow our place of learning to have any connection to a place where people are taken to jail. We must give our young people hope. We must show them why life is worth living. We must give them access to achieve their full potential. We must never allow for education and learning to be compromised.

PHILADELPHIA, PA (Nov. 1, 2018) — Fashion meets football for the fifth annual Fashion Touchdown runway show, as Philadelphia Eagles players and their significant others will sashay down the catwalk in support of Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence (BBBS Independence). Together, these community-minded athletes will tackle issues of childhood adversity by helping raise critical funds needed to support BBBS Independence’s mission of building and supporting one-to-one relationships that ignite the best possible futures for youth. The event is the agency’s largest fundraiser and has set a fundraising goal of $800,000.

This year’s event, presented by Marrone Law Firm, LLC, will take place on November 5, 2018, at The Fillmore Philadelphia. “Having presented this event for the past two years, I hold a special place in my heart for Big Brothers Big Sisters and the incredibly impactful and important work they do for so many young people,” said Joseph M. Marrone, Esquire, founder of Marrone Law Firm, LLC and BBBS Independence governing board member. “Truly, the work of volunteer mentors is invaluable. By providing dedicated and concentrated support, they have helped thousands of children overcome hardship, improve their self-esteem, and gain the confidence needed to reach their fullest potential.

We’re so proud to continue the legacy of support by presenting the fifth annual Fashion Touchdown fundraiser. We are especially grateful to the Philadelphia Eagles and their significant others who will be there, as well as the sponsors and individuals who will support by purchasing tickets.” Fashionistas and downtown shoppers alike will recognize iconic womenswear designer, Nicole Miller, who will be in attendance and orchestrating the fashion show. Nicole will show part of her collections, which will be available at two of her Philadelphia flagship locations. “We are thrilled to be back as part of this wonderful event and support an organization that has such a positive impact on the wellbeing of children across the Philadelphia region,” said Mary Dougherty, owner of Nicole Miller Philadelphia. “As Philadelphians, we are always looking for ways to give back to the community we love, and we’re honored to help raise awareness and encourage individuals to become positive role models as a Big Brother or Big Sister to children.”

In true Philadelphia fashion, Eagles players will showcase custom-made suits from “haberdasher by day, safety by night” Malcolm Jenkins’ clothing line, Damari Savile. Trading in helmets and jerseys for suits and bow ties, players participating in this year’s event include safeties Rodney McLeod, Malcolm Jenkins, and Chris Maragos, tight end Zach Ertz, defensive end Brandon Graham, linebacker Jordan Hicks, cornerback Jalen Mills, former tight end Brent Celek, and former offensive guard Todd Herremans.

This night of football, fun, fashion, and philanthropy will kick off with a VIP pre-party, featuring cocktails, light bites, and trendy pop-up shops from featured designer, Nicole Miller. While guests enjoy cocktails and refreshments, FOX 29 Good Day Philadelphia co-anchors Mike Jerrick and Alex Holley will emcee the highlight of the evening— a star-studded fashion show. Hair will be provided by Jason Matthew Salon, makeup by beauty giant Anastasia Beverly Hills, and men’s grooming by DAPR Grooming Parlour.

Event-goers also have the opportunity to win exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime experiences, including the chance to meet world champion boxer, Bernard Hopkins, at New York City’s Madison Square Garden. The top bidder will attend a weigh-in with Bernard and sit ringside at the December 15th middleweight championship bout between Canelo Alvarez and Rocky Fielding.

Nicole Miller will also auction a package experience, including two invitations to attend the Nicole Miller 2019 New York Runway Show, a signed original Nicole Miller sketch, a $1000 gift certificate for future purchases at Nicole Miller Philadelphia locations, and an exclusive Nicole Miller Eagles jacket signed by Nicole Miller herself and Eagles players.

Top Chef winner, Chef Nick Elmi of Laurel Restaurant and RoyalBoucherie, will be auctioning off a 10course, in-home dinner, including wine pairings.

Finally, attendees have the opportunity to bid for a Perry Milou original custom artwork, valued at $10,000. Collaborating with BBBS Independence, Bernard Hopkins, mentors, board members, and Eagles players Chris Maragos and Rodney McLeod, Milou has created an unforgettable piece that has captured the spirit of Philadelphia.

“For the fifth year in a row, we are incredibly honored to present our Fashion Touchdown event. It is events like this that keep our mission, and the stories of the youth we serve, front and center,” said Marcus Allen, CEO of BBBS Independence. “I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how crucial the support of Marrone Law Firm, Nicole Miller Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Eagles has been in helping us reach our goals over the last four years. We are proud to have them as a part of our team to help raise critical funds necessary to support youth in our region. With more than 1,200 children still waiting for mentors of their own, Fashion Touchdown will help change many more lives for the better.”

This event would not be possible without the following event sponsors and partners:

EVENT SPONSORS
Marrone Law Firm

TOUCHSTONE SPONSORS
AmerisourceBergen
Bank of America
Mutual of America

FIELD GOAL SPONSORS
The Higgins Group
Scott and Sharon Rankin

SAFETY SPONSORS
UPS

EXTRA POINT SPONSORS
Tito’s Handmade Vodka
The HOW Group
Universal Funding
FINdustries

KICKOFF SPONSORS
Thrivest Legal Funding
Silver Heart Healthcare

HALFTIME SPONSORS
Coca-Cola
Independence Blue Cross
iMALOGIX
Health Plan Partners
Marrone Financial
Exude

EVENT PARTNERS
Nicole Miller Philadelphia
Damari Savile
Jason Matthew Salon
DAPR Grooming Parlour
Anastasia Beverly Hills
The Fillmore Philadelphia
Live Nation
Brûlée Catering
Casamigos Tequila
Yards Brewing Company
Stateside Urbancraft Vodka
Philadelphia Magazine

Philadelphia, PA Oct. 1, 2018 – Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region (BBBS Independence), along with more than 270 Big Brothers Big Sisters affiliates across the country, today unveiled a new, modern look and brand repositioning with a goal of recruiting more diverse volunteers.

“The need in Greater Philadelphia for young people to have a role model is more urgent than ever before,” said Marcus Allen, CEO of BBBS Independence. “To attract more volunteers of all generations, we needed a modernization of our brand to make an impact in the community and meet the need of the essential work of matching youth with caring adult mentors.”

Months of research, including focus groups with potential Bigs, as well as current Bigs, Littles, donors, staff, and leadership showed that the brand was not effectively connecting with younger, prospective mentors or conveying the urgent mission of Big Brothers Big Sisters. The organization is intentionally pivoting from messages of the importance of mentoring, to messages of the urgent need for the adults in the community to step up to defend the potential of every child. The mission will remain the same, as will the core model of building bridges in communities by connecting one adult with one child and supporting that match at every stage, but the organization will focus on a child’s potential, and the role of adults in helping children achieve their best possible futures.

“In our community, we know that youth are facing numerous challenges including youth violence, poverty, educational inequality and mass incarceration. Our organization’s new brand is designed to help us ensure we can serve more children in Southeastern PA and Southern NJ by recruiting more volunteers,” said Allen.

The brand repositioning and new look are just the beginning. In the coming year, BBBS Independence will transition to a new, modern, nationwide technology system, participate in new training, and use the new positioning to refocus efforts on recruiting local volunteers.

Learn more about the new brand positioning, the logo or messaging, or how to get involved at www.bbbs.org/bigpotential. Share the new look and follow updates on Twitter (@IndBigs), Instagram (@independencebigs), and Facebook (@independencebigs) using #BBBS and #BigPotential.