August 25, 2022

AP News Visits Friends LA

Reporting on MacKenzie Scott's $44 million gift to Friends of the Children

LANCASTER, Ca. (AP) — Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott donated $44 million to the Oregon-based mentoring organization, Friends of the Children, which supports children at risk of entering the welfare system by pairing them with a longtime mentor.

The unrestricted gift provides $15 million to the organization’s national headquarters and splits $29 million in direct donations to 12 of the organization’s chapters from Tampa Bay to Detroit to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles, which has one of the highest number of children in foster care than anywhere in the country, is one of the chapters of Friends of the Children that will receive the gifted funds. The organization has two locations there, including one that opened in 2019 in Antelope Valley, located about an hour north of the city. That office won funding from the county mental health department to divert children at risk of being separated from their parents or guardians from entering foster care.

“We’re getting reports from there, the parents and their caregivers, that not only do they have hopes and dreams for their children, but they have their own hopes and dreams and don’t feel so alone by having a friend by their side,” said Terri Sorensen, CEO of Friends of the Children.

Their chapters now partner with a range of local organizations to identify children most at risk of being involved in the welfare system and to match them with a long term mentor.

“Perhaps the parents experienced foster care, didn’t graduate from high school, have been incarcerated. Let’s get to those families before they enter the system and keep them out,” Sorensen said. “So that’s really where we like to be on the side of prevention.”