DEAR FRIEND, Through all that we’ve celebrated and learned, one thing has become clear: when we center on our values and truly put children first, real change happens.
As you read through this report, we hope you will also be reminded of how this change is possible and why. It is with a strong vision, perseverance and intentionality that youth, parents, Friends, communities and philanthropists are building a better future through Friends of the Children.
Embodying these attributes and leading the way is Amen, a 2021 graduate of our Portland chapter. When Amen was about six years old, she wrote me a letter about her plans to study hard, graduate high school and go on to an excellent university. It was clear, at that young age, that Amen was going to do great things.
This fall, Amen heads to Howard University in Washington, DC to pursue her education and passion for fighting injustice. Amen said, “I’m hoping that whatever career path I pursue will help me continue to fight for other people’s choices and their rights.”
When asked about how she discovered her passion for social justice, she shared, “ … it has just always been there … Social justice has never been a question for me. I think it is something that everybody should be fighting for… because there are so many wrongs in this world and not one person can fix all of that. We all need to do our part, and I hope that I can do my part.”
For many of us, that means investing in youth like Amen. Her vision for herself, for other people, and especially for other youth, is powerful. To young people she says, “Experience what you want to experience… Don’t let other people’s opinions restrict you from doing things or not doing things that you’d like to do.”
Together, we make Amen’s vision a reality.
Four hours a week, 52 weeks a year, for 12+ years. Her vision for herself and for other people – especially for other youth – is powerful. This is what it takes to ensure that everyone has the opportunity and resources to say “yes” to building a better future.
As Amen would say, “Thank you for doing your part!”
Warmest regards, Terri Sorensen | CEO, Friends of the Children
Impacting generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what.
Our values guide us to achieve our mission. Each value applies not only to youth, Friends and program teams, but also applies to all Friends of the Children employees, volunteers and partners. We use our values to make informed decisions; to hire, coach and manage; and most importantly, we use our values to change the way the world treats and views the youth and families we serve.
Put Children First
We intentionally serve youth who are facing the greatest obstacles. To help youth discover their limitless potential, we foster their internal resiliency. We listen to youth and base decisions on each youth’s needs and dreams. We prioritize self-care so that we bring our best selves to our work and focus on youth in our program
Build Relationships on Love
We nurture long-term relationships from a foundation of love, acceptance and culturally informed practice. We don’t give up easily and take a no matter what approach to our work. We commit for the long term. We intentionally develop collaborative relationships over time with trust, empathy and healthy communication. We believe that we build community through one-on-one connections that are authentic, respectful and meaningful.
Commit to Empowerment
We leverage personal strengths to take ownership of our futures. We build relationships within the communities of youth and families to strengthen social networks and provide bridges to new opportunities. We consistently inspire possibility through empathy, hard work and fun. We model all of this for youth, families in our program and each other.
Pursue Goals Relentlessly
We celebrate all achievements, big and small. We are disciplined in our commitment to goals, while innovative in how we reach them. We believe that the definition of success requires intentional reflection and adjustment over time. We work together and hold ourselves accountable with data to achieve short- and long-term outcomes.
We acknowledge the historical and present injustices impacting marginalized communities. We demand equity from ourselves and from our community. We insist that all people have the necessary support to achieve all of their hopes and dreams. We amplify the voices of children, families and communities. We bring together different experiences, skills and backgrounds to provide opportunities to overcome personal, systemic and institutional barriers.
"Our ability to transform the social service sector is something that I look forward to. There is no other agency or organization like Friends of the Children."
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS ON LOVE – AND BELONGING
The Friends of the Children network is filled with incredible leaders who bring their experience and strong vision to empower youth and families. We’re thrilled for you to get to know Carmi Brown, our national Chief Program Officer, who is leading program quality and expansion for our network!
Carmi spent the first part of her career as a case manager and supervisor for the child welfare system, and initially, she could hardly believe Friends of the Children was real. But after conducting her due diligence, Carmi fell in love with the model and made the leap from child welfare to Friends of the Children. She joined the Friends of the Children – Tampa Bay (Friends-Tampa Bay) program team, which had invited youth in foster care to join the program. There she led with a focus on creating belonging, even through the instability and transitions that youth in care often experience.
That hands-on time with youth and families in the Tampa Bay area now shapes her approach as national Chief Program Officer, the position she’s held since 2018. “The perspective I was able to gain helps me to empathize with the youth, the Friends and the chapters.” It also drives her vision for the future. “Our ability to transform the social service sector is something that I look forward to. There is no other agency or organization like Friends of the Children.”
Since the start of the pandemic, Carmi has worked hard to find ways to celebrate the progress that youth, families and Friends continue to make despite what’s going on in the world around them. She’s especially proud of the way Friends took time to assess and meet the individual needs of youth and their caregivers. Even when youth go through difficult things, Carmi reflects, “it just warms me up to see that our youth are smiling because their Friends continue to be right by their sides.”
She’s also celebrating the work that’s been done to build deeper connections with caregivers. “I believe every caregiver and every parent wants better for their children compared to what they had for themselves. I think that every caregiver wants success for their child, whatever success means and however they define it. We are meeting them where they are and, whatever they define success as, we are going to help them reach that.”
At this year’s Friends-Tampa Bay graduation celebration, a caregiver approached Carmi to say thank you. The mother let Carmi know that her son’s Friend had been in his life longer than any other person. The mom said to Carmi, “I don’t know where my son would be without his Friend.” And Carmi thought: This is why we are here! This is why we are doing what we are doing.
SETTING THE BAR FOR THE FIELD OF MENTORING
Our model is distinct, courageous and proven. We redefined youth mentoring by creating the first and only long-term professional mentoring program in the country. Here's how it works:
We Invite Youth and Caregivers to Join Us
We partner with schools, the foster care system and community partners to extend invitations to youth who could benefit most from a long-term, professional mentor.
We Hire and Train Full-Time, Paid, Professional Mentors Called Friends
Our Friends are amazing. They have chosen to make long-term mentoring their profession. Their full-time job is to support 8-10 youth and their caregivers.
We Commit for the Long Term
We commit to more than a decade of professional mentoring, from as early as age 4 through high school graduation—12+ years, no matter what.
Our Work is Relationship-Based, Individualized and Intentional
Each child gets a dedicated Friend who listens to their hopes and dreams and helps them set their own goals.
We Work with Youth and Caregivers in the Community, at Home and at School
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.
We Evaluate, Measure and Improve
Friends of the Children is dedicated to internal and external research and evaluation. We do this because youth and families in our program deserve nothing but our best!
EZRA SINGS HIS WAY TO SCHOOL SUCCESS
Over the past year, thousands of youth across the Friends of the Children network continued to attend school virtually. This is a story about how one of our Friends, Malik, walked alongside Ezra to ensure that despite this challenge, Ezra is building a bright future for himself.
As soon as Friend Malik logged into the virtual classroom, he noticed that Ezra appeared to be distracted by everything and everyone in his crowded home environment. While Ezra expressed happiness to see Malik join the class, he remained visibly distracted.
After class, the teacher shifted Malik and Ezra into a virtual breakout room for some one-on-one time. Malik asked Ezra if they could work together on the sight word phonics assignment from that day’s class, but Ezra resisted. He said he didn’t know how to read any of the words and began drumming on his desk, making rhythmic sounds with his mouth while staring aimlessly around the room.
Malik knew that Ezra enjoys making music and singing, so he proceeded to screen share a YouTube video of a beat-box artist, which quickly captured Ezra’s attention. Malik suggested they make a song out of the sight word phonics assignment. As Friend Malik played the role of hype man and background singer, Ezra excitedly proceeded to put all the words into song form, rapping, singing and humming the words aloud.
Ezra completed the assignment and, the next day, he proudly demonstrated to his teacher and classmates how he had learned to read the entire sight word phonics assignment. Malik praised Ezra for his perseverance and creativity, telling him that, if he keeps this up, he might just become the next Bruno Mars. Ezra said, “For real?!,” and Malik told him, “Anything is possible when you dream big!”
*Names changed to protect privacy.
POWERING INTO THE FUTURE
From day one, we celebrate short- and medium-term success as youth make progress toward achieving their hopes and dreams:
96% of youth in our program told us they were able to accomplish things they’re proud of.
Plans and Skills for the Future
96% of youth shared that they feel a strong sense of belonging to their culture.
95% of youth attained successful overall school performance.
92% of youth made progress toward improving their overall health– such as being physically active or seeking emotional support when they need it.
Springboard to Success
After almost 30 years of seeing youth in our program achieve incredible success, we remain inspired by their accomplishments:
92% of youth go on to enroll in postsecondary education, serve our country or enter the workforce with a living-wage job.
83% of youth receive their high school diploma or GED.
93% of youth remain free from involvement in the juvenile justice system.
98% of youth wait to parent until after their teen years.
OUR FOCUS ON EVIDENCE TO DRIVE PERFORMANCE IS SOMETHING THAT SETS US APART.
BUT DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT…
Friends of the Children leads by example, putting research findings into action and continuously improving their model. The development of their Two-Generation (2Gen) approach is a great example: Caregivers shared what was working for them and how Friends could improve. Led by those voices, Friends of the Children developed its 2Gen approach and is building a brighter future for youth and families. I am excited for what the future holds!
— Kevin P. Haggerty, MSW, Ph.D. University of Washington
What I appreciate most about Friends of the Children is their intentionality. You see it in their commitment to the individualized service provided to youth and families and in their approach to research and evaluation. Every study builds upon the one before – from implementation as they scale, to impact as they grow and strengthen the model. What we learn from the Friends model has relevance throughout the field of mentoring and beyond.
— Carla Herrera, Ph.D. Independent Consultant
SUPPORTING STRONG CHILDREN AND FAMILIES
Friends of the Children's Service Along the Well-Being Continuum
CAREGIVER VOICE: EVIDENCE OF IMPACT
The Friends of the Children youth- and family-led approach supports health and well-being for children and families along that continuum with specific goals in mind. This year, caregivers let independent researchers know that with the support of a Friend, their families are stronger!
GOAL NUMBER 1
PROMOTING safe and well-supported children and families. 92% said Friends connected them to concrete supports that enrich and stabilize their family. 88% said their child’s behavior had improved, making their home a more positive place.
GOAL NUMBER 2
PROVIDING hope-inspiring services that mitigate trauma and promote well-being. 91% said Friends helped them support their child’s school success. 86% said Friends supported them to better understand their child’s needs and strengths.
Ultimately, we want parents to get the supports they need to be the parents they want to be, and kids to get to be kids – living safely at home with their families. NOTEWORTHY: A recent exploratory study showed that youth in foster care with a Friend exit care almost six months sooner than youth without a Friend.
"With all of my experience, knowledge and education, I really just hope to try and transform the foster care system…"
SURVIVING TO THRIVING
MEET LATEESHA, a parent with our Friends of the Children – Los Angeles (Friends-LA) program. She is a visionary entrepren(her) and lead(her) who is bringing her lived expertise to advocate for her family and for former foster youth who often don’t have access to strong social networks or wealth.
When Friends-LA invited LaTeesha and her twins to join the program, she initially hesitated. However, LaTeesha quickly realized that the benefits outweighed her fears – especially considering Friends-LA is based on an abundance of support for children and their parents. LaTeesha shared, “My kids have their dad and I, but… I know they can use someone else for when I can’t be there (emotionally).” In 2018, her family joined the program, and both children were assigned separate Friends whom they trust and with whom they enjoy spending time.
The Friends partner with LaTeesha, her daughter and son to create and achieve tangible goals through a meaningful, intentional relationship. “It is a very purposeful relationship. We coordinate a lot back and forth. We have a plan that we developed together regarding their individual educational, behavioral and emotional goals...”
Over time, LaTeesha has realized that her children’s Friends are also her Friends. They have filled in the gap in times of need by connecting her to essential resources while also supporting her children’s well-being. LaTeesha recognizes that the support she and her family receive from Friends-LA is a strategic approach to ending unhealthy generational cycles that many foster youth don’t have the supports to end on their own.
LaTeesha is constantly seeking ways to improve her family's situation on their journey to become financially independent. She is using her drive and skills to catapult her very own “Strategy or Struggle, Inc.” (SOS) brand and company, through which she hopes to be able to provide education and training for former foster youth seeking nontraditional employment opportunities.
Friends of the Children is honored to walk alongside this wonderful family for 12+ years, celebrating their successes along the way!
BUILDING PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE FUTURE
Klamath Basin and the Chiloquin Community
As we reflect on our growing opportunities to partner with tribal nations, we are inspired by the collaboration happening in Southern Oregon.
“How are you thoughtfully engaging the community you are trying to serve?” This is a question we encounter regularly. For Friends of the Children – Klamath Basin (Friends-Klamath Basin), the answer comes from meaningful partnerships that recognize and honor community expertise. Such partnerships were intentionally nurtured in the Klamath County community of Chiloquin, whose population of 770 includes 47% Native Americans, the majority of whom are members of the Klamath Tribes, a nation consisting of the Klamath, Modoc and Yahooskin-Paiute people.
Friends-Klamath Basin has been serving Native youth since its founding in 2000, but it was in 2016 that the chapter began deepening engagement with the community to better – and more deliberately – serve its families. Chapter leadership started to attend coalition meetings of tribal and county health leaders and to build relationships with Chiloquin Elementary School administrators.
The chapter also formed a Community Advisory Committee, comprised of tribal members, school staff and other Chiloquin leaders who understood community needs. With new understanding and trusting relationships, Friends-Klamath Basin could then offer the Friends model from a place of learning, respect and honor for Chiloquin’s community culture. As a result, in addition to enrolling children through the child welfare system and schools elsewhere in the Klamath Basin, the chapter began inviting youth and families to join the program directly from the Chiloquin community.
Friends-Klamath Basin continues to deepen its partnership through joint projects, such as a nature photography program for chapter youth and Klamath Tribes Youth Council members during spring and summer 2021. Together, Friends of the Children and tribal leaders are on an exciting journey to build a better future for youth and families.
When Friends of the Children received the federal Social Innovation Fund award in 2016 to increase children served in existing sites and expand our model to new locations, we had no idea how many communities would be interested. It turns out there were a lot, and that started a wave of expansion that continues long past that federal award. To ensure we could sustain such growth, in 2019, Friends of the Children launched an Expansion Campaign to raise $50 million by 2025.
To date, over $25 million has been raised thanks to catalytic investments from partners like AT&T and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and from private philanthropy, including Michael Jordan, King Philanthropies, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Echo Fund and the Ballmer Group. We are well on our way to achieving our goal of being in 25 cities by 2025!
HOW IT WORKS
Receive an invitation and a catalytic investment to launch expansion efforts in a community.
Identify and establish a local champions committee to help raise seed capital (between $1 million - $2 million) through multiple sources, and to connect and engage local community and nonprofit partners to build awareness and collaboration.
Once launch funds are raised and the community has invested their time and voice, the National Board of Directors votes to move forward with chapter launch.
The chapter’s 501(c)(3) status is obtained, executive leadership is hired from the community, the chapter board of directors begins to meet and we support the new chapter leaders in hiring Friends and selecting the first cohort of youth.
Thank you to the following partners who support our work:†
$1 Million & Up Conrad N. Hilton Foundation**, Echo Fund**, King Philanthropies**, Michael Jordan**, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention**, Stand Together Foundation**
$500K-$999,999 Anonymous*, AT&T**, Medina Foundation*, Michigan Health Endowment Fund*, Quest Foundation*, SCHEELS*, Silver Family Foundation**, Tykeson Family Foundation*, Why Not You Foundation**
$100K-$499,999 Anonymous (2), Cambia Health Solutions**, Crystal Springs Foundation*, Dick & Sue Jacobsen*, Donald Washburn**, Gary & Christine Rood*, George S. & Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation*, Greg & Michele Goodwin**, Intermountain Healthcare*, John Dozier**, M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust**, May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust**, Nor'wood Foundation*, The Campbell Foundation**, Clark and Christine Ivory Foundation*, The Hearst Foundations, The Larry H. & Gail Miller Family Foundation*, The McGregor Fund*, The Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health**, Vital Life, a Marquis & Consonus Foundation*, W.K. Kellogg Foundation*, Whisper Foundation, a legacy of Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation*
$50K-$99,999 Bamford Foundation*, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation*, Koons Family Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation*, Korum for Kids Foundation*, Llewellyn Foundation*, Michael & Deborah Feldser**, MLB, MLBPA, Morgridge Family Foundation*, S.I. Jaggar Blount Fund and Tate Family Fund via OCF*, Satterberg Foundation*, Sorenson Legacy Foundation*, Tom Jefferson*, WRG Foundation**
*Denotes support of chapter(s) across the Friends of the Children network **Denotes support of Friends of the Children – National and chapter(s) across the network †Investments recognized between the time period of September 1, 2019 through July 31, 2021
NATIONAL BOARD OF DIRECTORS
GEORGE GRANGER – CHAIR President, AT&T – Oregon
GREG GOODWIN – IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIR Chairman, Wayne D. Kuni and Joan E. Kuni Foundation
STEPHEN M. GRAHAM – CO-VICE-CHAIR Managing Partner – Seattle, Fenwick & West LLP
DON WASHBURN – CO-VICE-CHAIR Private Investor
CYNTHIA GRANT – SECRETARY Advisor, WRG Foundation
MICHAEL FELDSER – TREASURER Retired Senior Vice-President and COO of Food and Household Products Division, Ball Corporation
PEGGY MAGUIRE – MEMBER AT LARGE President, Cambia Health Foundation; Senior Vice-President, Corporate Social Responsibility and Palliative Care Solutions, Cambia Health Solutions
DUNCAN CAMPBELL – FOUNDER Director, The Campbell Foundation; Founder and Retired CEO, Campbell Global
RACHEL ARNOLD Managing Director, Vista Equity Partners
ERICA BAIRD Co-founder, Lustre; Retired Partner, Office of General Counsel, PwC
GARY CLEMONS Executive Director, Friends of the Children – New York
KARIE CONNER Vice President and General Manager, VP/GM North America Kids at Nike
ELLEN FRAWLEY Partner, GMMB
JOHN GILLELAND CEO and Chairman, Campbell Global
THOMAS KELLER, PH.D. Duncan and Cindy Campbell Professor for Children, Youth and Families, School of Social Work, Portland State University
THOMAS LEE Executive Director, Friends of the Children – Los Angeles
SHARON MAGHIE Retired Director, Microsoft Corporation
JOHN MINER Managing Director, Pivotal Investments
HENRY G. MORRIELLO Partner, Head of Structured Finance and Transportation Finance, Arnold & Porter LLP
BRYAN PARKER CEO and Co-founder, Legal Innovators
DAN SALTZMAN Retired Commissioner, City of Portland, Oregon
BRUCE SCHOEN Retired Chief Financial Officer, Anthem Memory Care
DAVID SHAPIRO CEO, MENTOR
SHANE WALL Investment Partner, Fusion Fund; Retired Chief Technology Officer and the Global Head of HP Labs, HP Inc.
VANESSA WILKINS Founder, Future School Lab
DJ WILSON President and CEO, DJ Wilson Consulting; Retired President and General Manager, KGW Media Group