Friends of the Children Model

Research has shown that the single most important factor for building resiliency in children who face the highest risks is a long-term, consistent, relationship with a caring adult.

The Model

We select the children facing the highest risks.

Our children are statistically at serious risk of continuing the cycle of poverty in their own lives.

  • 62% experience homelessness.
  • 54% do not have enough to eat at home.
  • 52% have a parent with substance abuse problems.
  • 52% are impacted by the child welfare system.
  • 48% have parents who are/were incarcerated.
  • 44% have been impacted by domestic violence.
  • 41% have parents who did not graduate high school.
  • 35% have had a report of abuse or neglect filed on their behalf.
  • 25% were born to a teen parent.

We call the youth we serve Achievers to demonstrate our belief in their potential to thrive!


We employ and train salaried, professional mentors called Friends.

Moving mentorship out of the volunteer realm is a key component to getting the quality, consistency and commitment that our children need.

Meet Shane - Youth Advocate/Adolescent Friend


We commit for the long term.

We commit to every child for the long term, from kindergarten through high school graduation. 12 ½ years. No matter what.

Meet Elliot


We focus on the complete transformation of each child.

Each child gets a dedicated, one-on-one Friend who spends a minimum of 16 intentional hours per month with them. We develop a road map for each child and design activities to build life skills. We create meaningful experiences to explore each child’s unique talents and interests.

Meet Kadejah


We work in and with the child's community.

Friends spend time in each child’s home, school, neighborhood, and community. They are able to provide continuity in these often unstable environments and to serve as a link between the different facets of the child’s life. This means we advocate for children at their school and become someone their family trusts in emergencies.

A Parent's Journey with Friends


We evaluate, measure, and improve.

We are in an ongoing longitudinal randomized control trial conducted by researchers affiliated with the University of Washington, Princeton University, and University of Oregon. We are also assessed annually by an independent third-party evaluator. This allows us to continue to identify ways to make our program stronger.

A Friend In Action

It isn't just a job.

We call our professional mentors "Friends" because it isn't just a job. They are forming meaningful relationships with our youth that last for years.

This could look like:

  • Helping an Achiever’s math skills by counting successful free throws
  • Helping an Achiever find constructive outlets for stress and frustration
  • Advocating for a special education service at an Achiever's middle school
  • Being the consistent adult in an Achiever's life as they move from placement to placement in the foster care system

Often, the Friend is the only person the family calls when a crisis occurs.



It makes economic sense.

The Harvard Business School Association of Oregon showed that for every $1 invested in Friends of the Children, the community benefits over $7 in saved social costs. Helping one child saves the community $900,000.

Read more about our Return on Investment

It Works


90% of Achievers are on track to graduate high school.

Although 41% have parents who did not complete high school.


99% avoid the juvenile justice system.

Although 48% have parents who were incarcerated.


100% have avoided early parenting.

Although 25% were born to a teen parent.

Our Growth Plan

We have an exciting plan to maintain our high quality of service and grow to reach more youth in our community. Our Growth Plan is based on our strategic plan and the growth goals to increase the number of Boston's most vulnerable youth served by 30% by 2021.

What Others Are Saying