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Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee Partners With Raphah Institute

Middle Tennessee organizations partner to pilot program to help divert young people out of the juvenile justice system

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee today announced a formal partnership with the Raphah Institute helping serve young people with a mentor. The regional mentoring organization is starting a pilot program, initially with up to five young people, where their mentor will help guide the child through the Raphah Institute’s Restorative Justice Program

Restorative Justice is an intervention program for young people entering the juvenile justice system where they are given the opportunity to make amends to their victim.  The victim then can decide if they want the offender to go back into the system, or if they are satisfied with the justice they have received.

Mentors trained and supported by Big Brothers Big Sisters will help guide the young person through the process to amend the harm caused to the victim, take responsibility for their actions and empowering them to move forward with a more productive future. The Raphah Institute serves as the liaison between the victim and offender for the Restorative Justice program in Nashville.

“This is a new and exciting partnership for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and is very much in keeping with several of our existing initiatives,” commented Melissa Hudson-Gant, CEO for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee. “We are keenly aware of the adverse experiences young people face when impacted by incarceration, whether it is their own involvement in the juvenile justice system, or that of a parent. Our partnership with the Raphah Institute allows us to leverage our respective strengths to expand both service to and the positive outcomes of those youth that participate.”

According to the state of Tennessee, over 12,000 crimes were committed by youth under the age of 18 in Middle Tennessee last year.

In 2017, Big Brothers Big Sisters served 1,283 children and youth and demographics show that 29% were children of incarcerated parents. One-third of all the youth we served in Nashville lived in the 37208 and 37207 zip codes which, according to a recent Brookings Institute analysis, have the highest incarceration rates in the nation — with 37208 having the unfortunate distinction of being ranked #1 among high-population zip codes in the U.S.

Fortunately, mentoring offers hope and healing for youth who have experienced the trauma of incarceration. According to the latest research, two positive experiences in childhood have the greatest impact on the likelihood of success for these children as adults. First, feeling that as a child their family stood by them in hard times, and secondly, having had someone to talk with about difficult feelings.

“The young people in our program have so many valuable skills and gifts in life, it is our responsibility to help them navigate and transcend difficult experiences.  Our volunteers don’t create potential in these young people, we defend it allowing them to become their best possible selves,” added Hudson-Gant.

For more information on volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters, visit or call (615) 329-9191.

Cover photo description:
Representatives from Big Brothers Big Sisters and The Raphah Institute have partnered for a pilot program to help divert young people out of the juvenile justice system.
Gathered for the program contract signing are, from left to right, back row: Anne Gallo, Director of School Based Programs; Rebecca Ackerman, Vice President of Programs; and Melissa Hudson-Gant, CEO all with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee; and Travis Claybrooks, CEO of The Raphah Institute.

Front row: Ashlee Sellars, Restorative Justice Liaison for Juvenile Justice Center of Davidson County, Nashville and Eric Ritter with The Raphah Institute.


About Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee
Big Brothers Big Sisters’ mission is to provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever. Founded locally in 1969, Big Brothers Big Sisters is a volunteer and donor driven organization that matches children in need with a positive adult role model and empowers that young person to reach their potential.  Revenue generated is used to conduct background checks, screening, and recruitment of prospective volunteers to ensure child safety… as well as provide ongoing professional support for children, families and volunteers. Big Brothers Big Sisters serves young people across Middle Tennessee in Metro Nashville/Davidson County, Williamson, Rutherford, Cheatham, Dickson, Robertson, Sumner and Wilson counties. Learn more by visiting  or calling 615-329-9191.

The administrative headquarters for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee are located at 1704 Charlotte Avenue, Suite 130; Nashville, TN 37203.