Friends of the Children, Seattle, WA
Our Mission: To accelerate generational change, we identify youth facing the toughest challenges and connect them with professional mentors who guide them to develop their greatest potential and achieve their goals. From kindergarten through high school graduation, no matter what.
Friends of the Children is the only youth development program breaking the cycle of poverty and violence, preventing school dropout, teen parenting, and criminal activity - by selecting the most vulnerable children, and making a 12 ½ year commitment to their success through high school graduation. It works because:
We select children who face the most challenges in their home and school environments.
We start early, in kindergarten or first grade, when the child is eager to learn and grow, but needs the constancy and guidance of a professional mentor.
We pair each child with a full-time salaried mentor; each child receives at least four hours of mentoring per week.
We stay for the long-term, until they graduate from high school, prepared for college and the workforce, no matter what.
The children enrolled in Friends of the Children are those who face the highest risk of poor outcomes, including school dropout, teen parenting, and criminal activity. Most live in poverty, move frequently, and have experienced trauma.
90% of youth live in low income families (eligible for free or reduced price
56% of youth are at risk of becoming homeless;
79% of the children were born to a teen mother;
46% of the children have a parent who has been incarcerated; and
55% of the children have lived with someone other than their parents.
Outcomes and Research:
Recent results are remarkable, given the challenges faced by the children, including frequent moves, exposure to violence and addiction, and family crises. Based on the most recent school data available (2013-14 school report card data for 92% of youth served),
85% of our students K-12 met
or exceeded grade level math standards;
98% of our elementary students met or exceeded grade level reading standards;
76% of students missed fewer than 10 days of school;
92% avoided suspension or expulsion; and
All students k-11 were promoted to the next grade, and all eligible youth graduated from high school.
Our data is so promising, the National Institutes of Health funded a randomized controlled trial study to determine the long-term impact of salaried Friends, with continuation funding from the US Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Although there are few statistically significant findings at this stage, this is typical for a longitudinal study of a long-term intervention, and we expect to see more positive differences for program children as they enter adolescence.
Return on Investment:
An analysis conducted by the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon found that the societal benefits resulting from greater educational achievement and lower rates of incarceration and teen parenthood, together with the impact on siblings, classmates, and future children and grandchildren of participants, outweigh the program costs by more than 26 to one.
every 100 Friends of the Children graduates, society gains:
24 more high-school or college graduates;
59 fewer teen parents;
30 fewer people getting an early start in prison and correspondingly fewer victims of the crimes they would have committed.