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RACINE, KENOSHA — The end of business Tuesday is also the final chapter in a longstanding community partner.

Earlier this month, the Board of Directors of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Racine and Kenosha announced that because of a critical budget shortfall, Tuesday would be its final day of operation.

Within the last few years, the organization’s annual state, federal and private grants were cut by more than $120,000, according to a statement released by the board.

“We have done everything in our power to deal with the loss of a third of our annual budget, including reducing staff and identifying new fundraising sources and models, but ultimately, we were unsuccessful in making up for this significant loss,” the statement reads. “Unfortunately, we fell significantly short of our fundraising goal. At this point, we simply do not have the funds to continue to operate.”

The statement also noted that Big Brothers Big Sisters had served “thousands of mentors and mentees for the past 54 years.” According to information on the organization’s website, from the late 1970s through the early 1990s, the Kenosha program was known as “kinship,” prior to joining forces with the national Big Brothers Big Sisters.

In 1996, the program merged to include Racine and Kenosha.

Big Brothers Big Sisters financial woes widespread

The budgetary pain isn’t limited to just the local office, either.

“Like many small nonprofits, we were impacted by the reduction in funding, this includes at the national level,” the statement reads. “The national office of the BBBS is limited in support due to the lack of funding for many of its affiliates, who, unfortunately are being faced with the same circumstance we are.”

As the doors close for the final time, the leadership of the Kenosha and Racine office offered its gratitude to the community for its support.

“We want to thank the thousands of individuals who have supported our organization over the past 53 years,” the statement reads. “Countless donors, volunteers, businesses and employees made it possible to foster mentorships for some 15,000 children in our community. Your generosity made an immeasurable difference in the lives of children, and undoubtedly changed the lives of their (mentors) as well.”

The impact of the closing directly hits the 20 current children enrolled in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program as well.

“We are so sorry that we fell short,” the statement reads. “We hope you know how difficult this decision was, and that we did everything we could to try to keep our doors open. Your potential is limitless, and we wish you all the best.”

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