Friends of the Children–Tacoma

Please visit Friends of the Children–Tacoma'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 from Tacoma and Pierce County with a salaried, professional mentor, called a Friend, from kindergarten through high school graduation – 12+ years. No matter what. Beginning in spring of 2020, we will invite children whose parents experienced or exited out of the foster care system to join our program. 

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.

More than 17% of youth in foster care in Washington state live in Pierce County even though Pierce County only makes up 12% of the state’s population. By selecting children aged 4-6 whose parents experienced or exited out of the foster care system, we will support the Department of Youth and Family Services (DCYF) initiative prioritizing prevention and family stability.

Each child enrolled in the 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.

Additionally,  Friends – Tacoma is implementing an intentional Two-Generation (2Gen) approach, working with parents to build critical parenting skills that empower them to advocate for their child in school and strengthen bonds. Friends will also support parents in accessing housing, employment and social service resources, while measuring both youth and parent outcomes.




Melvin Nobles, Jr. — better known as "JR." is a passionate youth development professional who is committed to helping young people step into new futures through education, advocacy and empowerment. He walks this out through his work and service in the Tacoma/Pierce County area. 

For the last seven years, JR. has been the Director of Tacoma/South Puget Sound MESA (Math, Engineering, Science, Achievement) Program. There, he worked with districts, schools, and industry partners to prepare underrepresented (African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, Pacific Islander, and female) students for higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In this capacity JR. has become well versed and is a voice in numerous arenas including higher education, K-12 education, diversity, equity and and inclusion, policy and advocacy and STEM.

JR. is proud that his inspiration to work with young people started through his work at the Pierce County Juvenile Court. From there he has demonstrated his philosophy of "walking alongside" youth where he oversaw youth education and employment programs. His most significant accomplishment there was the establishment and opening of the collaborative youth one-stop "REACH" (Resources for Education and Career Help). 

As a Tacoma native, JR. is a product of Tacoma Public Schools and graduated from Wilson High School. He also received a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Washington and a Master of Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University. 

In addition to his career work with youth and young people, JR. has been a real estate broker since 2005. Aside from his daily work, it is also important to JR. to be actively involved in his community. To that end, he serves as:

- Commissioner for the City of Tacoma Human Rights Commission

- Precinct Committee Officer in the 27th Legislative District

- Board Member of the Black Education Strategy Roundtable

He is also a former board member of the Alliance for Youth of Pierce County and the Mission Creek Correctional Facility Advisory Board. Additionally, JR. is also an active and lifelong member of his church and serves a number of roles there.


JR. Nobles, Executive Director

Friends of the Children–Tacoma


Phone: (253) 376-0214