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Oct-25-2017 12:48printcomments

Friends of the Children Announces Expansion in Five Cities

Evidence-based mentoring model to be featured in public television documentary “Visionaries”

friends of the children
Friends of the Children is a national nonprofit based in Portland, OR with the mission of breaking the cycle of generational poverty by giving the most vulnerable children the ability to create a new story.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - Friends of the Children, whose successful model of providing the most vulnerable children with long-term, salaried, professional mentors from kindergarten through high school graduation, announced today it will award $2.4 million to open chapters in four new cities, and expand in one existing site.

The announcement—which includes new chapters in Austin, TX; Central Oregon; Charlotte, NC; and Los Angeles, CA; and an expansion in Boston—is due in large part to the Social Innovation Fund (SIF), a federal matching grant opportunity.

“We are thrilled to announce this expansion at such a critical moment,” said Terri Sorensen, president of Friends of the Children, a national organization based in Portland, OR.

“We know that our children have a lot stacked against them. They are at greater risk for dropping out of school, substance abuse, incarceration and teen parenting.

"Research has shown that the most important factor for building resiliency in children facing the highest risks is a long-term, consistent relationship with a caring adult. We can now provide that to hundreds more children.”

Friends of the Children’s evidence-based model works: 93 percent of youth avoid involvement in the juvenile justice system, 83 percent graduate from high school, and 98 percent avoid early parenting.

“I’ve seen firsthand how much Friends of the Children improves lives for vulnerable children in Oregon,” U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said.

“I’m thrilled to see its innovative and life-changing model expanding across the country to have even more impact on those kids who need it most.”

Friends of the Children employs and trains full-time, salaried, professional mentors, who they call “Friends,” who spend a minimum of 3-4 hours every week with each of their children, teaching valuable life skills, instilling positive behaviors and helping them grow into responsible adults.

The Harvard Business School Association of Oregon return on investment study found that for every $1 invested in Friends of the Children, the community benefits more than $7 in saved social costs. Helping one child saves the community $900,000.

Moving mentoring out of the volunteer realm ensures the quality, consistency, and commitment needed to break the cycle of poverty for the most vulnerable youth. Each Friend works with 8-11 youth as their full-time job.

“Friends of the Children has a proven track record of changing the life-trajectories of youth facing the toughest challenges and CNCS is thrilled to support the expansion of this high-impact work to serve more young people across the country,” said Lois Nembhard, Senior Advisor to the CEO at Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

The expansion is due in large part to generous support from many national and local funders, including the following: Thrive Foundation for Youth, a division of King Philanthropies; Ballmer Group; and Russell Wilson and Ciara’s Why Not You Foundation.

“We invest in change organizations that have proven, data-driven models for serving vulnerable children and fostering economic mobility,” said Nina Revoyr, Executive Director – Los Angeles for Ballmer Group.

"Friends of the Children’s model is both rigorous and common-sense. It shows that the presence of a caring, consistent adult can drastically change the trajectory of a child’s life.”

“Children living in poverty have few opportunities unless they have someone in their life who can show them a different path,” said Robert and Dottie King, the founders of Thrive Foundation for Youth and King Philanthropies.

“Friends of the Children’s compelling model provides tangible proof that they help young people thrive, which is why we support their work.”

The official announcement will take place in Washington, D.C. today at the AT&T Forum for Technology, Entertainment and Policy and will include a screening of the public television documentary “Visionaries,” with a 2018 season episode featuring Friends of the Children, which was sponsored by Portland-based Cambia Health Foundation.

The screening will be followed by a short panel discussion with Friends of the Children founder Duncan Campbell, MENTOR chief executive officer David Shapiro, and others.

As part of the SIF grant, Friends of the Children also opened a new chapter in San Francisco and doubled enrollment in Seattle in early 2017. Current sites include Boston, MA; Harlem and South Bronx, NY; Portland, Gresham, and Klamath Falls, OR; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; Tampa Bay, FL; and Cornwall, UK.

The SIF matching grant is supported through funding awarded in 2016 by CNCS that received funding from 2010 to 2016.

Using public and private resources to find and grow community-based nonprofits with evidence of results, SIF intermediaries received funding to award subgrants that focus on overcoming challenges in economic opportunity, healthy futures and youth development.

Although CNCS made its last SIF intermediary awards in fiscal year 2016, when Friends of the Children received its award, SIF intermediaries will continue to administer their subgrant programs until their federal funding is exhausted.

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