Investment in Families through 2-Generation Youth Professional Mentoring Service

Project Summary:

Funds would support family stability for those facing the highest social and economic barriers and help each family thrive through 1:1 professional, youth mentoring interventions and whole-family supports. This one-time investment will provide organizational capacity enhancements to expand and to provide deeper supportive services to buttress families’ stability and resiliency.

Project Amount:



About Friends-Boston:

Friends of the Children is a unique and innovative model that was created by a former foster care youth to interrupt the cycle of generational poverty. Friends of the Children-Boston (Friends-Boston) was founded in 2004 with a mission to impact generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what. The premise of our model is straightforward and transformative: Enter the lives of children facing the toughest challenges early, and provide them with a dedicated, caring adult who stays by their side from kindergarten through graduation.

We work with public schools in high poverty areas to intentionally seek out and select those who face the highest barriers. We provide these children and youth, whom we call Achievers, with a 1:1 professional mentor from kindergarten through graduation. We provide wrap-around services in every area of our children’s lives, acting as connectors and advocates, and working closely with caregivers, schools, and the systems that touch their lives. This year we are building our new Supportive Services Department providing 2-Gen Support and supporting our second year at our new expansion site of East Boston. We currently serve 152 Achievers with our 2Gen work impacting 550 family members.

Project Detail:

Friends of the Children-Boston is a nonprofit serving Massachusetts that utilizes a unique and nationally-proven, child-centered 2-Generation (2Gen) model that overcomes generational poverty through both providing long-term, professional youth mentoring services for 12+ years from kindergarten through graduation, and working with caregivers to stabilize the whole-family. The results are healthy children meeting developmental milestones, healthy parents with family-supporting jobs, and better-connected individuals able to participate in civic and family life. According to the Harvard Business School of Oregon, every $1 invested in program youth returns $7 to the community. That $7 return on investment becomes almost $27 when siblings, classmates and the next generation are included in the equation.

Our families live in generational poverty, and we proactively target those facing the highest barriers even among their neighbors. They experience a confluence of multiple risks including generational factors, systemic conditions, and trauma. We onboard from zip codes with some of the highest poverty rates in the state: Roxbury, Dorchester, and our first expansion site in East Boston. Because of the long-term nature of our programming and our ability to follow families even if they move, we serve those not only in Boston, but also families on the North and South Shores, and as far west as Springfield.

However, today, the demand for our support has drastically increased as community members and school officials across our region inquire about new potential partnerships. Boston is one of the most expensive cities in the United States, with cost of living out of reach for most of our Achievers’ families, and the most vulnerable families spread across the region to Brockton, Lynn, Lowell, Worcester, and Springfield. They are increasingly facing barriers around housing and food insecurity, lingering mental health barriers, and equal access to educational quality. Our current Boston-only selection process is no longer enough to address the regional issue.

The social safety net is burdened when children are born to parents who are teens, incarcerated, or did not graduate from high school. We interrupt that cycle. It’s not just negative costs, but an opportunity cost when children growing up in Massachusetts don’t provide that strong educational pipeline of talent that's critical for our local businesses and the state.

Through our Strategic Growth Plan, Friends of the Children-Boston will be raising $16M over the next four years to double our size to reach 300 families by 2027, take our work to more communities, and our 2-Generation model will empower both youth and their parents to fulfill their hopes and dreams together and find tangible pathways out of poverty. By the end, we expect to rebrand as Friends of the Children-Massachusetts.

This one-time investment in staff and overcoming transportation barriers creates capacity to meet an increased need and deeper supportive services to buttress families’ stability and resiliency. It will directly support our expansion to serve vulnerable families, allow us to enhance our services to the whole family in new ways, while creating the framework for near-future expansion to a Gateway City(ies) in the next 3 years.

Yusmailyn Family