February 15, 2024

Leaders From Across the Friends of the Children Nonprofit Network Meet With Members of Congress on Capitol Hill to Advocate for Professional Mentoring for Youth Facing Adversity

Leaders from 36 communities representing youth from more than​​ 650 U.S. schools called on Members of Congress to pass a bill prioritizing youth impacted by foster care, mental health issues and other systemic barriers


WASHINGTON, D.C. (FEB. 15, 2024)Friends of the Children leaders from 36 communities representing youth from more than ​​650 schools descended upon Capitol Hill last week to deliver one message: put children first. Leaders from Friends of the Children chapters across the country called on members of Congress to prioritize investment in paid, professional mentoring for children who have immense potential and face immeasurable obstacles.

“Every child deserves the chance to reach their inherent potential,” said Terri Sorensen, national CEO of Friends of the Children. “For more than 30 years, Friends of the Children has demonstrated that with support from a paid, professional mentor, children and families are able to reach for their dreams and overcome great obstacles. We are proud that Congressional members on both sides of the aisle are open to working with our network to realize our vision that every child who needs a Friend has one.”

Friends of the Children is a nonprofit network that pairs children who face some of the hardest things in life like foster care, housing insecurity, and family mental health challenges with long-term paid, professional mentors. These professional mentors, called Friends, walk alongside youth and their families from kindergarten through high school—12+ years, no matter what. Studies of the program show that 92% of youth go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our county, or enter the workforce; 83% of youth earn a high school diploma or GED; 93% of youth remain free from the juvenile justice system; and 98% of youth wait to parent until after their teen years.

Leaders from the organization’s 36 locations met with more than ​​70 Congressional offices in both the House and Senate over two days, ​​including in-person meetings with: Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Rep. Burgess Owens (R-UT), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

In addition, Friends of the Children marked its 30th anniversary with a ​​reception at the AT&T Forum near Capitol Hill, awarding Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) with the Champion for Children Award for his unwavering commitment to the well-being of our most vulnerable children. Rep. Blumenauer is set to introduce legislation in the House of Representatives that would formally recognize paid professional mentoring programs, like Friends of the Children. A graduate of the Friends of the Children program, Freddi McCullers, was on hand to share how a Friend impacted her life and to celebrate the organization’s anniversary, alongside executive directors and board chairs from each of the chapters.

During their visits, Friends of the Children leaders asked Members of Congress to support increased long-term professional mentoring for youth including:

Friends of the Children has shown tremendous growth from 5 to 36 locations in the 10 years as more communities recognize the model as a strategy for both foster care prevention and mental health promotion for young people for face great obstacles. Their work has recently been featured on CNN and in The New York Times and Vanity Fair. Learn more at

Media kit with photos and videos from the event is accessible ​​here (photo credit: Ting Shen).


About Friends of the Children

Friends of the Children is a national nonprofit with the mission of impacting generational change by empowering youth who face the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what. Our successful model is now in 36 locations around the country in rural, Indigenous, suburban, and urban communities. Our work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review and CBS News. Visit to learn more and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.


Ariane Le Chevallier