What Makes Us Special

Together, We Are Defenders of Potential!

For over 55 years, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island (BBBSRI) has provided mentors to the youth of Rhode Island who have motivated and empowered them to make positive decisions, improve academic results, avoid risky behaviors, and grow in a way that will positively impact our community. As the largest mentoring agency in the state, we believe that every child has limitless potential and it is our responsibility to young people to help stand in the way of and overcome potential barriers that suppress potential.

BBBSRI considers those who stand up for mentoring and make investments in our state’s future to be “Defenders of Potential.” Your support makes you a Defender and allows us to continue the work we do.

Our Family Empowerment Fund

In 2016, BBBSRI began an Emergency Fund for families to answer the call for temporary assistance to families enrolled in BBBSRI who were struggling to provide essentials. Family support included gift cards for groceries, gas, and clothing. In 2020, the COVID-19 Pandemic forced the organization to consolidate its resources. At the same time, the needs of our families grew. With generous support from donors, BBBSRI began to provide financial assistance beyond emergencies to our families, including the distribution of Chromebooks so that our Littles could participate in schooling virtually.

In 2021, BBBSRI rethought the Fund and developed the Family Empowerment Investment Fund (FEIF). The FEIF provides opportunities for, and assistance to families of Littles (mentees) enrolled in BBBSRI. The FEIF accepts applications from all enrolled families on an ongoing basis. We make the process simple and empowering for our families. To date, we have provided $31,220 in Empowerment Funds to families of youth we serve and have received 152 requests.

The Secret to Our Success

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island (BBBSRI) is the largest and oldest youth mentoring organization in the State of Rhode Island. The Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) oversee two 501(c)3 organizations with a shared mission: To create and support one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth.

The two organizations are:

• Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island — a mentoring organization for youth ages 7-25; and

Donation Center Foundation of Rhode Island — a social enterprise that collects donations of used clothing and household goods for resale to generate funds to support the mentoring program expenses.

Our Donation Center opened in 1997. In its 25-year history, the Donation Center has continued to grow steadily and the current infrastructure is well-positioned for continued growth.

Donations are collected through a system of home pick-ups, community donation drop-off centers, community collection drives, and clothing donation bins. The Donation Center also operates profit-sharing partnerships with 77 Rhode Island non-profit organizations and municipalities known as “bin partners”, which host clothing donation bins in exchange for revenue generated by the bin. Funding generated by the Donation Center operation accounts for 72% of BBBSRI’s annual operating income to support impactful mentoring relationships for children in Rhode Island. In 2021, we gave out nearly $130,000 to nonprofit agencies and municipalities. Check out our Big Green Bin partner listing!

By donating used clothing and household items, you can help generate funding and furthering our impact in the Rhode Island community. Our partnership with Savers Thrift Stores has been a key factor in allowing us to increase the number of children and families we serve.

Download our 2019 Annual Report