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-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 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.
Each child enrolled in the Friends–Montana program will be paired with a paid, professional mentor called a Friend. For 12+ years, from ages 4 to 6 to high school graduation, Friends work with their youth in schools, at home, and in the community for 3 to 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.
Friends of the Children has named Missoula resident Ben Davis as the executive director of the Western Montana Region. “Every child in Montana deserves the opportunity to dream big and reach their goals, but too many children face a lot of adversity that can seem impossible to overcome,” said Davis, Friends – Montana Western Region Executive Director. “I am really looking forward to this incredible opportunity and know that our Montana youth and families who are experiencing incredible challenges – such as intergenerational poverty, neglect, and abuse – can thrive with the support of a Friend.”
Prior to being selected as Friends–Montana’s Western Region executive director, Davis co-founded and served as chief research officer of a groundbreaking research and data analytics company, Kharon. Davis previously worked as a district attorney in Denver, Colorado. It was during this period of his career when he became deeply involved in volunteering his time to mentor children and work on social equity issues impacting youth and their families. Earlier in his career, Ben directed numerous federal political campaigns where he oversaw all aspects of the campaign’s operations, fundraising, grassroots organizing, and media strategy.