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      Specialty license plate cuts could hurt Valley non-profits

      Boys & Girls Club in McAllen

      Funds for non-profit organizations are already tight since the recession, but non-profits could face even more cuts.

      Antonio Vidales loves to play air hockey and have all sorts of fun, but without the Big Brothers and Big Sisters, he might not be able to get that opportunity.

      Antonio is what they call an at risk youth and through the Big Brother and Big Sisters Program, he was recruited and partnered up with a mentor to get him through tough times.

      "Encouraging and helping and making sure that they don TMt drop out of school or that they have goals that they can reach, said his big sister Janette Lafera.

      Before this program, Antonio said he didn't speak English, but since becoming a little brother three years ago, he said his reading skills have improved a lot.

      Everytime we go to the public library, we get books and we start reading, said Antonio.

      The Big Brother ans Sisters get two thorough background checks and when approved to participate in the program, they get training to learn how to mentor the kids in the program.

      The organization credits their work to helping keep kids on the right path and out of drugs, but since the recession the program has suffered economically, and money that they receive through specialized plates are at risk as well.

      No- profits are hurting because a lot of grants are being taken away from us in this point and time, said Gloria Sylva with the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of South Texas.

      Non-profits normally receive around 22 dollars from a 30 dollar specialized license plate, but part of the appropriations bill calls to hold half of the payment for the next two years.

      The idea is to turn that revenue into state income and balance the budget, but non-profits said that's less money for them during the next two years.

      But a proposed amendment during the special session could preserve the money for nonprofits.