Friends of the Children–Detroit

Please visit Friends of the Children–Detroit's full website at for current information about the chapter. 


Friends of the Children is launching a new chapter that will pair children facing the greatest obstacles living in Detroit, Michigan, with a salaried, professional mentor - called a Friend - from kindergarten through high school graduation – 12+ years. No matter what. Beginning spring 2020, we will invite children whose families have faced significant challenges – like foster care, involvement with the criminal justice system, and generational poverty – to join our program.

Community leaders in Detroit sought out our program to address the region’s need for trauma-informed models. Friends of the Children – Detroit will operate in Wayne County, which has especially high rates of trauma and poverty among young children. According to the Kids Count report published by the Michigan League for Public Policy, more than 78% of Detroit’s youth population live in concentrated (or high) poverty neighborhoods, as compared to 42% for Wayne county and 15% for the state of Michigan. In that same report, the number of confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect in Detroit has risen by 84%, while the number of youth experiencing foster care in Detroit has increased by nearly 55%.

For over 26 years, Friends of the Children has empowered thousands of youth and families across the country to overcome those obstacles and change their stories through the unconditional commitment of a consistent, long-term relationship with a caring adult. 


Each child enrolled in the Friends – Detroit program will be paired with a salaried, professional mentor called a Friend. For 12+ years, from kindergarten to high school graduation, Friends work with their youth in schools, at home, and in the community for 3-4 hours each week to build skills like problem-solving, perseverance, and self-management. These skills empower youth to pursue and achieve their goals in school and in life. Simultaneously, leveraging our two-generation approach, Friends will empower parents and caregivers to build their own skills as parents, advocate for themselves and their children, and increase connectedness to community resources that improve family stability.



Nicole McKinney is a nonprofit professional with more than 20 years experience in the non-profit sector, including experience in fundraising, grant funding, advisory board development and youth programming. She has worked for 19 years in the United Way Network (with the past 15 years spent at United Way for Southeastern Michigan) in various positions, such as Director of Resource Development, Campaign Manager, Detroit and Wayne County Area Director, and most recently as Work-based Learning Director.

Some of her notable accomplishments have included providing funding to much needed programs in metro Detroit, establishing a school-based health center in River Rouge School District, and helping students to achieve industry certifications, job shadows, access to college, and internships.

Prior to United Way, she has held positions as Vice President of Member Services at the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce, Marketing Manager at the Battle Creek Enquirer, and served as a Consultant for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation Expert-in-Residence program.  In addition, she has served on numerous non-profit Boards.

Currently, she serves on the Birmingham Public Schools Board, and was appointed to the State of Michigan Teacher Tenure Commission in August 2019, by Governor Gretchen Whitmer, for a five-year term. 

McKinney is a graduate of three leadership programs:  Leadership Detroit Class XXXVI, Southern Wayne County Chamber Leadership 21, and Battle Creek Community Leadership Academy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in management and organizational development, and a master’s degree in business administration. 


Nicole McKinney, Executive Director


Phone: (313) 408-2511