BICC Executive Director Brenda Hughes counts both as variables for the continued growth and success of the community-oriented initiative.
The 15-year nonprofit veteran initially began the organization in 1998. She described BICC as being a Christian nonprofit community development organization.
According to Hughes, the goal was to determine, and implement, a different approach to, “addressing issues and concerns in our community.”
A variety of grants and grassroots support initially buoyed BICC through the first several years as a nonprofit. During this time, workers with the program strived to really listen to the community. Surveys and interviews were completed so the needs of the community could be identified.
Hughes explained 10 years were spent in this process.
Board Vice President Ken Davis believes in BICC’s listen-then-act model.
“It does not presume to know what the needs are, rather takes time to listen before it starts planning how to respond to the problems of the community,” Davis explained. “The only way for an organization to be effective is to listen first.”
Executive Director Janice Wilson of the George R. Johnson Family Foundation said BICC has been a recipient of the organization’s grants since they began awarding them 10 years ago. She also shared an appreciation for the listening method employed by the nonprofit.
“Several great programs came out of that process,” Wilson said. “We are hopeful that BICC’s current focus on strengthening families will be successful, leading to a stronger community as a whole.”
Programs were initiated once BICC felt the needs of the community were understood. Initial programs included: the Bradley Initiative Credit Union, Festival of Cultures and REACH Adult High School.
These were later followed by: Black Fox Community Preschool, Bradley Savings Initiative, the Commission on Racial Equality, the Community Foundation of Cleveland and Bradley County and the BICC Scholarship Program.
Grants received through organizations like the George R. Johnson Foundation enabled BICC to have the funds needed to finance these programs. Hughes emphasized how important community partnerships have been to continuing the growth of BICC to where it is today. She explained committed supporters have been with the nonprofit every step of the way through the 15-year journey.
BICC Board President Jeff Morelock said he is happy to participate, “in an organization that has studied the needs of our community, especially those of children and families.”
The organization has since moved from focusing solely on listening and implementing to growing the four main programs offered through BICC. These include Transitions, Starfish, Bridging the Gap mentoring and Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders Today.
According to Hughes, a number of the problems faced by members of the community can be fixed through strengthening families and youths. ITLT and BTG focus on providing good role models and effective skills for youth.
BICC supporter Bob Card said he believes BICC does an excellent job of addressing youth development in “unique and effective” ways. According to Card, programs addressing youth development are vital to preventing problems in the future.
Both Starfish and Transitions focus on increasing the communication between parents, or guardians, and their children. Starfish educates parents on how to be their child’s first teacher while Transitions focuses in on the family as a whole.
Community partnerships continue to effect change within the nonprofit.
Hayne Hamilton, president of the Tucker Foundation, simply explained his organization has never funded a more significant collaboration, “than the Thriving Together Partnership between BICC and On Point.”
Hughes shared a mutual appreciation for the sponsors, especially the partnership shared with the Tucker Foundation.
“While the Foundation has been generous through the years in their support of BICC’s educational programs, they have been instrumental in launching a collaboration between the BICC Transitions Program and On Point, a Chattanooga based program that has been expanded to the Cleveland area schools,” Hughes explained.
“Thriving Together is the title of the program that links the families of the youth in On Point to the Transitions Program to combine the benefits of both programs to maximize the positive impacts in the lives of families in our communities.”
The nonprofit hopes to celebrate its anniversary with the community by way of a fundraising banquet set for Nov. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The event will be held at the Five Points Museum Center.
Members of the community and supporters are encouraged to RSVP by Oct. 25 by calling (423) 559-1112.
Corporate sponsorships are also available: platinum level, $10,000; gold level $5,000; silver level, $2,500; and corporate table, $1,000.
All of the community supporters’ sentiments can be captured succinctly by BICC Board Treasurer John Haile’s response to the nonprofit, “BICC is the best way I know to make an investment in the future of our community.”