We all know of the life-saving work international organizations perform for impoverished children overseas. The founders of Tampa Bay’s Child have long supported international sponsorship programs and will continue to do so. But there are children in our own community who desperately need help and support – and who could benefit from a similar sponsorship relationship. Tampa Bay’s Child was formed to provide just such a sponsorship opportunity – with the goal of building the school-readiness, futures, and very lives of low-income children here in our own backyard.

Of course, there are many ways to reach out to children in need. Establishing and maintaining a direct relationship with a child – through adoption, fostering, or mentoring – is the most critical way to help, and we encourage you to do so if you are able and willing to make such a commitment. Tampa Bay’s Child can even help steer you to other organizations that provide vital opportunities for adopting, fostering, or mentoring a local child. But agreeing to become a child’s financial sponsor, through Tampa Bay’s Child, is a fourth way to help – and it may be an attractive alternative for individuals whose time is more limited than their compassion.

Are such sponsorships needed? You bet. Just consider the following realities:
    • In Hillsborough, one out of every four young children lives in poverty, and that percentage has been on the upswing, growing from 17% in 2007 to 25% in 2012. One out of every 10 children in Florida lives in “extreme poverty,” defined as less than 50% of the federal poverty level. (Kids Count report, funded by Annie E. Casey Foundation);
    • More than 20% of Hillsborough children are not ready when they enter kindergarten, and one out of every two are at risk, through poverty or low maternal education, of failing in school (Hillsborough Children’s Board Strategic Plan; School Readiness Uniform Screening System);
    • Two out of every three African-American students, and one-third of Caucasian students, can’t read at grade level. While a new study shows that all racial and income groups are showing improvement in 4th-grade reading proficiency, the reading gap between kids living in poverty and their higher-income classmates is growing ever wider. (St. Petersburg Times, May 2004);
    • Compared to the national average, Florida has: more kids in poverty; more kids without health insurance; more kids born low-birthweight; more teens giving birth; more single-parent families; and more parents making less money. Florida’s ranking on child-wellbeing has fallen over the last decade to 38th among the 50 states. (Kids Count report, funded by Annie E. Casey Foundation)

Sponsorship can ensure that low-income children in struggling families receive the items and services, necessary to success in school and life, that others take for granted. Although a monthly sponsor contribution of $28 may not stretch as far as it does in some overseas communities, it can still make a difference in the life of a child. That’s especially true since Tampa Bay’s Child stretches the buying power of sponsor contributions through bulk purchasing and commercial discounts – so that a $28 monthly sponsor contribution ends up buying far more than $28 worth of goods and services.

But sponsorship also buys something that doesn’t come with a price tag: the message to each disadvantaged child that he or she is valued – and that the community joins with his or her parents in pulling for the child to succeed.

Won’t You Consider Sponsoring a Child Today?


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