Our mission is impacting generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors — 12+ years.

The Generational Change Model


We select children who could most benefit from a relationship with a long-term professional mentor.

Like all children, the youth we serve have unique talents, varied interests and big dreams. Unlike other programs, we exclusively focus on children who face enormous systemic barriers. 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 hire and train full-time paid professional mentors called Friends.

Our Friends' full-time job is to empower and support youth and their parents. 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. Each Friend works with eight to ten youth, spending three to four hours every week with or on behalf of each child.


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.

Each child gets a dedicated, one-on-one Friend who spends a minimum of 14 intentional hours per month with them. Friends and youth set goals to build life skills and design weekly outings for milestone achievement. Friends create meaningful experiences to explore each child's unique talents and interests. Friends of the Children has developed nine research-based Core Assets, which are specific qualities we focus on to ensure the social and emotional development of our youth.


We work with youth in school, at home and in the community.

We take a whole-child approach because we understand that lived experiences, home environment, systems, community and culture shape how a child develops and learns. Friends co-design a future with youth and parents that leads to educational success, neighborhood connections, and stronger communities


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. Right now, our model is the focus of an ongoing longitudinal randomized-controlled trial led by researchers from the University of Washington and New York University.

Core Assets

Friends of the Children has developed nine research-based Core Assets, which are specific qualities we focus on to ensure the social and emotional development of our youth. With our nine Core Assets in place, we believe our youth will enter adulthood with a solid foundation for future success.

Growth Mindset

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.

Problem Solving

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.

Self Management

I know how to manage my feelings and take care of myself in a healthy way.

Self Determination

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.

A Friend in Action

We call our professional mentors Friends because it isn't just a job. They are forming meaningful relationships with our youth that last for years.

Friends support and empower youth by:

Friends support and empower parents/caregivers by:

It Works

92% of youth go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country or enter the workforce.

83% of youth earn a high school diploma or GED.

93% of youth remain free from juvenile justice system involvement.

98% of youth wait to parent until after their teen years.