FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 25, 2022
Ariane Le Chevallier
Friends of the Children Expands National Reach by Establishing a 25th Site, Located in Phoenix, Ariz
Jan. 25, 2022 (PORTLAND, ORE.) – The national organization Friends of the Children announced today the forthcoming establishment of a Phoenix, Ariz. chapter, a local, independent 501(c)3 that will serve children and families in the region who face multiple systemic obstacles. This newest chapter in the Friends of the Children national network signifies a bold success for the organization, which made a commitment in 2019 to scale from 18 to 25 locations by 2025.
The expansions, together with the continued growth of existing locations, means Friends of the Children will create greater impact across the country leveraging its model for prevention and intervention of foster care and the promotion of systems change. This work is critical as the COVID-19 pandemic still weighs heavy on our nation’s children—evidenced from lower math and reading rates in high-poverty schools, to the dramatic increase in mental health challenges.
“It felt audacious in 2019 to say we would expand to 25 locations by 2025. But here we are—we’ve met the challenge three years early,” said Terri Sorensen, national CEO of Friends of the Children. “This is an extraordinary milestone for Friends of the Children. We will be able to empower thousands more youth across the country to build the bright futures they deserve.”
Friends of the Children pairs children facing the greatest obstacles with paid, professional mentors who stay by each child’s side from as early as age 4 through high school graduation—12+ years, no matter what. In recent years, the organization has expanded to support caregivers through an innovative Two-Generation (2Gen) model aimed at supporting families to advance overall health and well-being.
The Friends of the Children professional mentoring model is a proven success:
- 92% of youth go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country, or enter the workforce
- 93% of youth remain free from juvenile justice system involvement
- 83% of youth earn a high school diploma or GED
- 98% of youth wait to parent until after their teen years
Scaling the Friends of the Children model was possible because of multi-million dollar investment from key funders, including: AT&T, Ballmer Group, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Echo Fund, King Philanthropies, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Quest Foundation, SCHEELS, Silver Family Foundation, Social Innovation Fund, Stand Together Foundation, Tykeson Family Foundation, Why Not You Foundation, and individuals including Friends of the Children founders Duncan and Cindy Campbell, longtime partners Greg and Michele Goodwin, Bob and Dottie King, basketball legend Michael Jordan, Super Bowl champion Russell Wilson and GRAMMY award-winning artist Ciara.
“Our work is about ensuring children have the love and support they need,” said Friends of the Children Founder Duncan Campbell. “I never want any child to have the childhood I had. I am so thankful and proud that Friends of the Children will be serving more families than ever.”
The unique Friends of the Children mentoring model is not the only reason the organization has been able to scale its locations so dramatically in a brief period: each new site is the result of a community-led collaboration. Before a new location launches, the organization assesses whether it has full support from key community stakeholders, including public officials, state and local agencies, business leaders, community organizations, and philanthropic leaders. In addition, it makes certain that three years of start-up seed capital is in place, demonstrating community buy-in, and ensuring that new locations start with an existing donor base.
“We are thrilled to be bringing Friends of the Children to Phoenix to make a real difference in our community,” said Julie Wechsler, local champion and board chair of the new Friends of the Children–Phoenix chapter. “So many of us have come together around building this chapter because we have seen the impact this model can have. And we have a dire need for this program—in Maricopa County, alone, approximately 24 new kids enter the foster care system every day.”
Over the last eight years, Friends of the Children has grown from five to 25 locations across the United States and in the United Kingdom. Fueled by public and private investments, the organization has secured $38.5 million of the $50 million goal it set in 2019 for its national expansion campaign. A return-on-investment study by the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon showed that every $1 invested in Friends of the Children returns more than $7 in benefit to the community.
About Friends of the Children
Friends of the Children is a national nonprofit with the mission of impacting generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what. Our successful model is now in 25 locations around the country and in Cornwall U.K. Our work has been featured in The New York Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review and CBS News. Visit friendsofthechildren.org to learn more.