Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma (BBBSOK) recently announced it has received a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support the Amachi program. Amachi is designed to break the intergenerational cycle of crime and incarceration by mentoring children of incarcerated parents.
“Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma’s Amachi program provides one-on-one mentoring relationships for children of incarcerated parents,” said Sharla Owens, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma. “This funding will help us serve more vulnerable children throughout Oklahoma with the quality support they need.”
Studies show 64 percent of Amachi matches continue from year one to two, creating more positive and long-term outcomes in those children’s lives.
“Statistics indicate that children with incarcerated parents are five times more likely to become incarcerated themselves at some point in their lives. This is an alarming fact and a cycle we must break,” said Rep. Kris Steele, Speaker Pro Tempore. “This grant will help BBBSOK serve more children in need of a positive influence and support in Oklahoma.”
George Kaiser Family Foundation is the lead private donor to the Amachi Program. Ken Levit, executive director of the foundation, presented BBBSOK with a $40 thousand grant.
“Public-private partnerships are critical in solving the problem of high incarceration rates in Oklahoma,” said Levit. “GKFF is dedicated to reducing female incarceration in our state by providing nonviolent female offenders and their children with the resources they need to become productive citizens.”
Dirk O’Hara, president of the BBBSOK Board of Directors, Rep. Ken Miller and Sen. Brian Bingman joined in the celebration.
Darrell Daugherty, BBBSOK state board member and his former Little, Jimmey Green, spoke about the impact of their match.
“My match with Jimmey has had a great impact on my life,” said Daugherty. “I simply tried to treat him like he really was my little brother. I am very proud of him and feel blessed to have had the chance to be a part of his life.”
BBBSOK has offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Bartlesville, Claremore, Stillwater, Ada, Shawnee and Norman.
About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma is a donor-supported volunteer organization that provides vulnerable children with a caring adult mentor and friend who, through a professionally supported relationship, stand in the gap to change their lives. In 2009, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma served approximately 2,500 children. Independent research shows that the positive relationships between youth in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and their Big Brothers and Big Sisters have a direct, measurable and lasting impact on children’s lives. The program is proven to improve children’s odds for succeeding in school, behaving nonviolently, avoiding drugs and alcohol and breaking negative cycles. To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters and how you can change how our children grow up in Oklahoma, visit www.bbbsok.org.