Entrepreneur Duncan Campbell’s own challenging childhood provided the impetus for founding Friends of the Children in 1993. We began with three paid professional mentors called Friends serving 24 children in Portland.
Today Friends reaches thousands of children in over 650 schools in communities across the nation. Our successful model is in 36 locations.
In alignment with the values of Friends of the Children, as an organization we acknowledge that each of our chapters are located on lands that were home to Indigenous people since time immemorial. Prior to the creation of the United States of America, this part of the continent was Turtle Island, the home of millions of diverse and thriving Indigenous people. We acknowledge and respect the inherent sovereignty and unique cultures of the first peoples of this land.
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Located at the northern end of L.A. County, the Antelope Valley has the highest maltreatment rate in the country for children ages 0 to 5. Given the immense need and proven ability of our model to make a real difference, leaders from the private and public sectors have maintained a vision to scale Friends of the Children–Los Angeles to the entire county, creating a continuum of service designed to focus on the prevention of foster care entry. In fall 2019, Friends–L.A. was awarded a $2.1 million contract with the L.A. County Department of Mental Health to expand service to the Antelope Valley, with a focus on stabilizing families and preventing entry into foster care.
Friends of the Children - Austin was founded in 2017, backed by 50 families who donated $1.7 million. Friends - Austin partners with three of Austin ISD's highest-poverty schools, CASA of Travis County, The Center for Children Protection, and The Salvation Army Rathgeber Center. The organization continues to grow, with plans to serve over 210 children by 2024.
Founded in 2004, Friends of the Children–Boston was the first organization established by the GreenLight Fund. Co-founded by John Simon and Margaret Hall, the GreenLight Fund is a venture philanthropy firm that identifies innovative nonprofits from around the nation and provides seed funding to bring them to Boston. After vetting hundreds of organizations to select as its first investee, the GreenLight Fund selected a high impact mentoring organization named Friends of the Children. Under the leadership and vision of John and Margaret, they enrolled their inaugural cohort of 16 youth in 2004, who went on to graduate from high school in 2016 and 2017.
In 2017, Friends of the Children - Central Oregon was launched with support from the Tykeson Family, The Campbell Foundation, and the Social Innovation Fund. The chapter serves youth across 72 sq miles in rural Oregon for 12+ years. Friends - Central Oregon partners with local school districts and child welfare agencies to select program participants. In 2023, Friends - Central Oregon selected its first cohort of youth in the rural community of La Pine.
In 2013 researchers ranked Charlotte, N.C., 50th out of 50 among the largest U.S. cities in economic mobility. For the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area at large, the U.S. Census currently reports that 44 percent of the 13,976 children ages 4 to 5 live in households earning below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level. Seeking a proven model to address intergenerational poverty, in 2017, Thompson Child & Family Focus, a centuries-old nonprofit based in North Carolina, applied and was awarded a Social Innovation Fund subaward from Friends-National to launch the Friends of the Children–Charlotte program as an affiliate.
Over the last few years, local and national media attention about Chicago has been about gun violence and gangs. Challenging that narrative, a group of concerned citizens came together around the belief that with the right support, every child can achieve greatness. Through their passion, persistence and commitment, local champions obtained the support of Pritzker Pucker Family Foundation, the Steans Foundation, the Good Heart Work Smart Foundation and many other individuals deeply invested in the children who need it most. Launched in January 2018, Friends of the Children–Chicago is proud to serve children in Austin and North Lawndale communities.
In 2018, Friends of the Children – Klamath Basin, established in 2000 was invited to expand its mentoring model in the heavily indigenous community of Chiloquin, which lacked adequate resources to address academic and behavioral challenges. The chapter hired a new Friend and enrolled a Chiloquin-based cohort that same year. In 2023, it established a Chiloquin “clubhouse” facility to better serve youth living in Chiloquin and secured funding to establish a second Chiloquin cohort.
Thanks to the generosity of SCHEELS and the Echo Fund, Friends of the Children – Colorado Springs (Friends–Colorado Springs) officially launched in the fall of 2021! Our vision is that one day, every child in El Paso County who is in - or at risk of entering - foster care will have a Friend: a paid, professional mentor who stays with them from kindergarten through high school graduation, 12+ years – no matter what. In its first year, Friends–Colorado Springs will partner with CPCD - giving children a head start in El Paso County, and partners who work with the child welfare system, to invite youth and families to join our program. Each child selected will be paired with a Friend whose full-time job will be to spend four hours a week with each child. Friends will support youth—and by extension their families—for 12+ years, building trusting relationships through a trauma-informed lens that provides critical social, emotional and academic support.
In 2016, the Detroit Free Press wrote an article stating that the Friends of the Children model could help children in Detroit. The story was written after a journalist visited the national office in Portland, Ore. Three years later, volunteers from the metro Detroit area who believed in the mission helped to raise the capital funding needed to start a Detroit chapter. Thanks to many early funders, foundations and individual donors, the funds were successfully raised, and the chapter became a reality. Friends of the Children–Detroit was established in early 2020. In partnership with Detroit Leadership Academy and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Friends–Detroit's inaugural cohort of youth and caregivers will be fully enrolled by August 2020.
In 2024, Friends of the Children will begin serving youth and families in Eastern Idaho! Our vision is that one day, every child in Eastern Idaho who is at highest risk of the long-term effects of childhood adversity, like foster care, will have a Friend – a long term, salaried professional mentor who stays with them from ages 4 to 6 through high school graduation, 12+ years, no matter what.
Friends of the Children - Eastern Montana was launched in October 2022, thanks to the Echo Fund, SCHEELS, the Underriner Family, and other catalytic donors. The chapter’s vision is that one day, every child in Montana who is in - or at risk of entering - foster care will have a Friend. The first cohort is enrolled, and the chapter serves both urban and rural areas, focusing on children who need them the most in Billings and surrounding reservations.
Friends of the Children - Fargo-Moorhead launched in July 2019 with an $850,000 investment from the Stand Together Foundation. The chapter serves children at-risk of entering, or who have already experienced foster care in Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., partnering with schools and community organizations. With a focus on a 2GEN model, Friends - Fargo-Moorhead enrolls and serves both children and caregivers.
In fall 2015, based on data about the displacement occurring for their children and families, Friends of the Children–Portland opened a new facility in the Rockwood neighborhood in East Multnomah County. The state-of-the-art center provides our youth with a positive environment in which to learn, play, participate in developmentally appropriate group activities and spend one-on-one time with their Friends. The Friends–Portland Rockwood location serves as a hub for partnerships and engagement with the wider East County community as they have made the kitchen, gym and meeting spaces available to other service organizations.
The Friends model was brought to New York in 2001 by Howard Clyman and Kathie Roberts. Howard's work of representing youth involved in the criminal justice system inspired him to bring a preventative program to New York City. The Friends of Children–New York program began with three Friends serving 24 children in Harlem. Almost twenty years later, Friends–NY is serving hundreds of youth and, with support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, has recently expanded through the launch of our two-generation (2Gen) approach.
Friends of the Children opened Friends – He Sapa in 2022, a site working directly with the Lakota Oyate [people] in Rapid City, South Dakota. The Friends of the Children model ensures that youth are supported from as early as age 4 through high school graduation—nearly half of the Topa [four stages of the Lakota Way of Life]. Friends of the Children is committed to grounding our work in Lakota culture using the extended kinship model through naming ceremonies, making of relatives, coming of age ceremonies, and healing camps.
In 2023, Friends of the Children - Houston will begin serving youth and families in Houston, Texas. Our vision is that one day, every child in Houston who is at highest risk of the long-term effects of childhood adversity, like foster care, will have a Friend – a long term, salaried professional mentor who stays with them from pre-school through high school graduation, 12+ years, no matter what.
Founded in 2000 with an initial investment from the JELD-WEN Foundation, Friends of the Children - Klamath Basin combats rural poverty in southern Oregon, selecting youth in partnership with Klamath County schools, the Oregon Department of Human Services, and the Klamath Tribes. In 2018, the chapter expanded into the indigenous community of Chiloquin, which sought support for academic and behavioral challenges. It further expanded in 2021 by launching two-generation (2Gen) mentoring and in 2023 by establishing a larger “clubhouse” facility in Klamath Falls.
Fueled by a catalytic investment from the Tykeson Foundation, Friends of the Children - Lane County began serving youth and families in July 2020 and quickly expanded beyond Eugene into Bethel in 2021. In 2022, Friends – Lane County launched a second location in Cottage Grove to help meet the needs of the area’s growing Mam-speaking immigrant group. Their rapid growth continues with a new group of youth and families beginning services in the fall of 2023 in the Springfield community.
Friends of the Children–Los Angeles (Friends–L.A.) started as a dream and ignited a movement to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children and their families. Los Angeles County is home to the largest child welfare system in the country. Parenting youth who are transitioning out of foster care face daunting uncertainties while working to lay the foundation for their children to feel safe, secure and hopeful as they grow. In 2017, Friends L.A. launched our first two-generation (2Gen) approach in partnership with organizations serving parenting transition-age foster youth. Working with county and philanthropic leaders committed to systems change, Friends–L.A. is becoming a part of the foster care prevention and intervention continuum in Los Angeles County.
After being highlighted as part of the Citizen Philadelphia’s 4th Annual Ideas We Should Steal Festival, a group of dedicated local champions came together to bring the Friends of the Children to Philadelphia. Friends of the Children – Philadelphia will launch in 2024 and will serve children and families living in the Kensington-North Philly area. Our dedicated partners in child selection include North 10 Philadelphia, the Community Center at Visitation (located in the Kensington area), and the School District of Philadelphia.
The Phoenix site was compelled by local need and conviction about Friends of the Children’s potential impact for children in Maricopa County. A local champion whose daughter works as a Friend at the Portland chapter led the effort to launch a Friends of the Children chapter in Phoenix. After securing commitments of more than $1.5M, the chapter officially launched in January 2022. Friends of the Children – Phoenix seeks to partner with the Roosevelt School District to select children into the program starting spring 2022.
Friends of the Children–Portland is the founding chapter of our organization, established in 1993 by entrepreneur Duncan Campbell. Founders Duncan and Cindy Campbell purchased a school building constructed in 1929 in the same northeast Portland neighborhood where Duncan grew up. Celebrating nearly three-decades of impact, Friends–Portland has since expanded to a second location in Gresham, Ore. Friends–Portland serves over 500 children living throughout Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.
Inspired to break cycles of intergenerational poverty and trauma, business and philanthropic leaders in Utah raised $1.75M in seed capital in just ten months to launch Friends of the Children–Utah. The Utah chapter officially launched in March 2020 and will serve children and families using our two-generation (2Gen) approach. In its inaugural year, Friends–Utah is partnering with The Children's Center and the Utah Department of Human Service to enroll children living in Salt Lake City who are in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty and high rates of entry into the foster care system.
The Friends of the Children - SF Bay Area chapter, established in 2016, serves youth in Bayview Hunters Point, one of the most diverse and historically important neighborhoods in San Francisco. Friends of the Children-SF Bay Area works with San Francisco Unified School District to enroll youth starting in kindergarten. Like all the chapters across the network, the strength of the SF Bay Area Chapter is the dedication and commitment of our Mentors. Here is a short video highlighting their work.
Friends of the Children - Seattle opened its doors to eight kindergartners in a small office in the Central District in 2000. Since then, we have operated under the simple belief that a long-term relationships build stronger communities that support youth to realize their power. Celebrating over 20 years of impact, the Seattle chapter uses the power of relationships to partner with public schools and accept referrals from the foster care system to enroll youth living in South Seattle and King County.
In 2014, Friends of the Children–New York expanded to a second location in the South Bronx. Friends–NY partners with school districts, government agencies and community-based organizations serving individuals whose lives are impacted by the child welfare and criminal justice systems. Between its Central Harlem and South Bronx locations, Friends–NY is serving hundreds of youth and, with support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, has recently expanded through the launch of our two-generation (2Gen) approach.
To ensure continuity of service when youth moved from Portland to Vancouver, Wash., Friends–Portland expanded its services to youth in Southwest Washington. The community response to the program was overwhelming and, between 2018-19, champions raised the seed capital to expand the program. Friends of the Children–SW Washington launched in 2020 as an independent chapter. Working with Vancouver, Evergreen and Battle Ground school districts, the chapter is excited to be our third chapter in Washington.
Launched by a catalytic $500,000 investment from the Medina Foundation in 2018, the drive to open a Friends of the Children chapter in Tacoma, Wash., was born. Friends of the Children–Tacoma officially launched in spring 2020 and is working with area organizations serving families impacted by foster care and the Washington State Department of Children, Youth and Families to identify and enroll youth into the program. Friends–Tacoma is implementing our two-generation (2Gen) approach, supporting both youth and caregivers to achieve their hopes and dreams.
Friends of the Children - Tampa Bay launched in response to the alarming numbers of children in the foster care system in the Tampa Bay area. The chapter initially started by enrolling children from the foster care system as an affiliate program through a partner organization in 2014. In 2018, Friends - Tampa Bay became a stand-alone chapter allowing the organization to operate independently and increase the number of children served in Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.
Friends of the Children - Twin Cities will begin working with children ages 4 to 6 in Hennepin and Ramsey counties who identify as Black and Indigenous and have been impacted by systems like child welfare or the justice system. Our vision is that one day, every child in the Twin Cities area who is at highest risk of the long-term effects of childhood adversity, like foster care, will have a Friend – a long term, salaried professional mentor who stays with them from pre-school through high school graduation, 12+ years, no matter what.
Thanks to the generosity of the Tykeson Family Foundation, Echo Fund, SCHEELS, First Interstate Bank, and an anonymous donor, Friends of the Children – Montana (Friends - Western Montana) officially launched in the fall of 2021! Our vision is that one day, every child in Montana who is in - or at risk of entering - foster care will have a Friend: a paid, professional mentor who stays with them from kindergarten through high school graduation, 12+ years – no matter what. Friends-Montana will initially begin selecting children in the Missoula area, in partnership with the local nonprofits and the education system. Each child selected will be paired with a Friend whose full-time job will be to spend four hours a week with each child. Friends will support youth—and by extension their families—for 12+ years, building trusting relationships through a trauma-informed lens that provides critical social, emotional and academic support.
Friends of the Children's model is both scalable and sustainable. We have built a national network of Friends – paid professional mentors – who are changing the story for thousands of youth. We work with local champions to raise seed funding and provide technical assistance to launch each chapter. Learn more about bringing a chapter to your city or community by clicking the button below.