We select children who could most benefit from a relationship with a long-term professional mentor.
We partner with community organizations, schools and foster care systems to help us meet children (ages 4 to 6) and families who could benefit most from a relationship with a Friend.
We exclusively focus on children who face enormous systemic barriers.
We hire and train full-time paid professional mentors called Friends.
A Friend‘s full-time job is to empower and support youth and their caregiver(s). Each Friend serves a roster of 8 children, dedicating 4 hours of professional mentorship to each child every week.
Moving mentorship out of the volunteer realm is key to getting the quality, consistency and commitment our children and their families deserve in the relationship.
We commit for the long term.
We commit to every child for the long term, from kindergarten through graduation. 12+ years, no matter what.
Our work is relationship-based, individualized and intentional.
Friends create meaningful experiences to explore each child's unique talents and interests. They also work 1-on-1 with each child to set age-appropriate goals and build critical life skills.
We work with youth in school, at home and in the community.
Using our Two-Generation (2Gen) approach, Friends collaborate with youth and their caregiver(s) to achieve positive life outcomes that keep families together, foster improved social connections, and build stronger communities.
We take a holistic approach because we understand that lived experiences, home environment, systems, community and culture shape how a child develops and learns. When entire communities thrive, children do too.
We evaluate, measure and improve.
We are equal parts head and heart. Data from Friends, youth and parents help us improve our impact. Ongoing third-party research, evaluation, and parent and youth feedback drive program improvement and innovation.
Friends of the Children has developed 9 research-based Core Assets, which are specific qualities we focus on to ensure the social and emotional development of our youth.
With these Core Assets instilled from an early age, we believe our youth will enter adulthood with a solid foundation for future success.
I love learning and know that my abilities will improve through dedication and effort.
I understand who I am, have a place where I feel accepted and know that my contributions count.
When I have tough times, I believe it can get better.
I know how to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision.
Perseverance & Grit
I work hard through challenges and finish what I start.
I know how to manage my feelings and take care of myself in a healthy way.
I believe in myself and am able to set goals and achieve them.
Find Your Spark
I use creativity to explore my passions.
Positive Relationship Building
I get along well with others and am able to find people to support me.
WHAT IS A FRIEND
Spending time with or on behalf of the child in school – working with teachers, advocating for individualized academic plans and empowering older youth to advocate for themselves.
Creating connections – with other youth who share their interests or to resources in their own communities.
Exploring their interest and sharing in new experiences, through trips to museums, visiting the library or taking an art class.
Connecting youth to opportunities, like internships, scholarships and informational interviews.
Helping a child identify coping skills, regulate emotions and find constructive outlets for stress and frustration.
Being a consistent adult in a child's life as they move from placement to placement in the foster care system.
Proving social and emotional support, along with helpful tips that support positive parenting.
Being present during a crisis.
Helping plan regular trips to the doctor.
Letting them know about special education services available at their child's school and empowering them to advocate for those services.
Building social capital and expanding their networks through family engagement events.
Connecting them to concrete supports–like housing and education/employment pathways–and helping them fill out applications, get appointments and otherwise overcome barriers to participation.
It makes economic sense.
The Harvard Business School Association of Oregon showed that for every $1 invested in Friends of the Children, the community benefits over $7 in saved social costs. Helping one child saves the community $900,000.