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.


With the right supports, every child has great potential. Unfortunately in Minnesota, outcomes for Black and Indigenous children are some of the most inequitable in the country, particularly related to child welfare system involvement, education, access to mental health, homelessness and geographic segregation. Post-pandemic, young people are committing crimes at higher rates and younger ages. At the same time, students in Minnesota are reporting staggering increases in mental health challenges and we have a shortage of mental health professionals. Though fewer children are in our Hennepin and Ramsey foster care systems, children – especially children of color – are staying longer in foster care. Family instability, trauma and behavioral health challenges are proven to affect long-term health and education outcomes for young people. Research shows it is possible to both prevent adversity and reduce the overall impact of trauma. Two main ways recommended by experts are connecting youth to caring adults and building core life skills. Friends of the Children does both.

friend and youth

“We're excited to partner with child well-being leaders throughout our community to help us identify and support children and families who stand to benefit most from the support of a Friend."

- Brett Buckner
Executive Director, Friends of the Children - Twin Cities


Executive Director, Friends of the Children - Twin Cities

A proud third generation Minnesotan and life-long resident of North Minneapolis, Brett Buckner demonstrated his commitment to youth and community development as a coalition convener for the 80+ member Seeds To Harvest network, a program of, that mobilized thousands of volunteers and produced programs in response to communal challenges in effort to support our children and families.

Fighting for equity before it was termed, Brett served in several high-profile leadership roles for human and civic rights including as President for the Minneapolis NAACP (1998/99) which he received the Region IV Man of the Year award in 2007 for his service to the association and society. In 2010, he formed the ColorTheVote (CTV) Campaign which mobilized more than 125,000 voters since its conception. Through this campaign, Brett helped lead a community coalition to become plaintiffs for the Minnesota redistricting process facilitating the final congressional and legislative district designs in 2021. Brett also serves as Common Cause – Minnesota Advisory Board chair and founding chair of Heritage Youth Sports Foundation. As a member of the Hennepin Healthcare Center's equity implementation committee and Community Advisory Committee for the Blue Line light rail extension on behalf of the Met Council, Brett continues to push for access and opportunity for all residents regardless of their social economic status.

Brett is a graduate of Metropolitan State University with a master’s degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership and he continues to build unique and lasting bridges between cultural, socio-economic, and geographic communities with the hopes to close the “gaps” that hinder our community to become “OneMinnesota”.


3 Es

92% of youth go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country or enter the workforce.


83% of youth earn a high school diploma or a GED.

Juvenile Justice

93% of youth remain free from juvenile justice system involvement.


98% of youth wait to parent until after their teen years.


Challenges faced by a community require local solutions. Friends of the Children - Twin Cities is its own independent 501c3 with local leadership from board to staff to walk alongside the children and families in the Twin Cities who need it most.

Interested in learning more about how you can support Friends of the Children - Twin Cities?
Please contact Executive Director Brett Buckner at

Thank you!