Funding for a national mentoring program was frozen following an audit that stated Big Brothers Big Sisters of America can’t verify the use of more than $19 million in taxpayer funds awarded to the nonprofit through grants.
An audit by the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, which was released this month, showed the nonprofit “did not adequately safeguard grant funds and ensure compliance with the terms and condition of the grants.”
The audit also stated that the methods for recording grant-related expenditures were inadequate since the nonprofit mixed taxpayers funds with its general funds.
The nonprofit is headquartered in Philadelphia and has nearly 370 nonprofit agencies across the country, serving about 250,000 children between the ages of 9 and 16, according to its website.
Abha Cole, military mentoring program manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, said the local chapter currently serves 51 military children in the Killeen-Fort Hood area.
Cole said she doesn’t know how much grant funding the Central Texas branch receives and couldn’t comment on how the funding freeze will affect the local chapter.
The department audited a total of $23,177,286 in grant funding, which was intended to be used to mentor tribal, military and other “at risk” youth.
The audit recommended that “the $3,714,838 in funds not yet disbursed be put to better use” as the mentoring program takes the necessary steps to resolve the issue.
“The process of addressing the concerns raised in this report may take months to fully resolve,” according to a statement on the Big Brothers Big Sisters’ website. “BBBSA and its forensic accounting team will work closely with (the government) to continue to implement the needed changes in accounting systems, policies and procedures, proper recording of time, and accurately calculating and charging indirect costs to federal grants.”
Although the future of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America is unclear, Cole said she encourages adults to volunteer at the local chapter.
“It’s a great program,” Cole said. “It helps these kids increase self-confidence, helps improve relationships, helps them achieve goals that they’ve set for themselves and it gives them someone to talk to.”