In 2018, one in five U.S. children lived in poverty. Extreme obstacles – generational school failure, parental substance use, incarceration, violence in the home and community, and teen pregnancy – create a cycle where children fail within education, behavioral health and foster care systems, and frequently land in the justice system. We provide these children with intensive, individualized guidance from full-time, salaried professional mentors (Friends) for 12.5 years, from Kindergarten - graduation. Friends of the Children (FOTC) is the solution to breaking the cycle of poverty and intergenerational repetition of low educational attainment, teen parenting, and criminality. FOTC empowers youth to move beyond their circumstances to become healthy, productive citizens. 100&Change will support FOTC growth by establishing 25 new chapters in highest-need communities. 1:1 national and local matching funds will support long-term sustainability. Every $1 invested in FOTC returns $7 to the community. The expansion ROI is $700 million.
Friends of the Childrenwebsite: http://www.friendsofthechildren.org
Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity
To maintain our “no matter what” commitment to youth and families, we reimagined our service model from in-person to virtual service delivery. In response to a Friends of the Children network-wide needs assessment, we worked with families to access resources for basic needs and problem-solved with hundreds of individual youth to ensure our Friends could reliably connect with them through phone and video calls for their weekly one-on-one time together. Now we are focused on proactive innovations, including: a supportive accountability app to give all family members direct access to evidence-based resources that support distance learning, physical activity, and improved mental health; and a learning management system to provide just-in-time training for Friends on everything from supporting parents to help their children with distance learning, to talking with youth and families about systemic racism. To mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 and ensure we stay on track with plans explained in our proposal, we incorporated virtual fundraising events and supported our network to access Paycheck Protection Program loans from the Small Business Association.
Racial and Ethnic Injustice Response
Our core model is a direct response to racial and ethnic injustice: we walk alongside youth and families, empowering them to drive innovation and disrupt systemic conditions that perpetuate injustice. Through our long-term, relationship-based approach, we enable all of our youth – 88% of whom identify as people of color – to build social-emotional skills and social capital to achieve their hopes and dreams. We uplift the voices of those we serve, positioning them as leaders for generational change. This is complemented by our work to encourage systems – like education, child welfare, and juvenile justice – to talk with each other, and to change the way they see and treat our youth and families.