August 25, 2022
Friends of the Children - Boston and Friends of the Children’s national network receive $44 million from MacKenzie Scott to support its long-term mentoring model
Gift gives organization powerful momentum to provide more Boston youth with big dreams who face systemic obstacles with a paid, professional mentor for 12+ years
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ariane Le Chevallier
BOSTON (AUGUST 25, 2022) — Friends of the Children - Boston announced today that the organization received a $2.4 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. This is part of a series of gifts made to 12 chapters and the national organization Friends of the Children totaling $44 million. Friends of the Children is the only mentoring program in the country with paid, professional mentors (called Friends) who walk alongside youth for 12+ years no matter what. This gift offers powerful momentum for the organization to serve more children in Boston, many of whom are in—or at risk of entering—the foster care system.
“We are honored to receive this historic gift from MacKenzie Scott,” said Yi-Chin Chen, Executive Director of Friends of the Children - Boston. “We are most excited about what this gift means for the youth we currently serve, and the youth we will get to serve. They have big dreams and unending potential. A gift of this proportion at a time like this will allow us to double-down in showing up for our young people as well as their caregivers and families, creating ripple effects among their peers and communities.”
This is the largest single gift ever received by the chapter. The funding will not only support the organization in doubling the number of youth they will serve and expanding their service footprint regionally, as well as expanding their offerings in mental health and special education support services. Additionally, the funding will allow the chapter to transition to a Two-Generation service model to work with youth and support their caregivers, bringing increased stability and support to the entire family.
“I know from my own experiences that children often face a lot of hard things as they grow up and the love and support I received after my foster care experience allowed me to thrive and see myself for all that I could be,” said Simone Biles, youth advocate and Olympic gymnast. “That’s why I believe the long-term mentorship that Friends of the Children provides is so meaningful—having just one person who believes in you can truly impact a young person’s life. I am excited that MacKenzie Scott is investing in Friends of the Children to empower more youth across the country! In supporting Friends of the Children, it is my hope that more children will have access to a ‘Friend’ and be inspired to pursue their hopes and dreams in all communities, including my hometown of Houston, Texas.”
Youth in Friends of the Children - Boston achieve outstanding results considering the national statistics for youth transitioning out of foster care:
- 98% of youth were promoted to the next grade level
- 100% of youth avoided school suspensions
- 100% of youth avoid the juvenile justice system
- 100% of youth avoid early parenting
- 80% of program graduates go on to enroll in post-secondary education or become employed in a living wage job.
Friends – Boston pairs youth with big dreams who have been impacted by systemic inequities, which may include poverty, foster care and criminal justice system involvement, and other childhood traumatic experiences with “Friends” who stay by each child’s side from as early as age 4 through high school graduation.
“We’re there for our youth during their highs - the dance recitals, birthday parties, math award ceremony - and their lows,” said Paula Lozano, Youth Advocate Friend, at Friends of the Children - Boston. “The youth I work with trust they’ll see me show up when it matters most, because I’ve done so for years. This gift means we can grow our youth’s learning opportunities not just from Friends, but from their community. We take pride in finding ways for youth to explore different skills, cultures, and activities to become more compassionate, well-rounded people. It also means we can continue to support youth and families with different needs that come up throughout the year, such as school supplies and uniforms with the new school year, or access to resources throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“As a divorced mom raising three beautiful but very different children in this very uncertain world, the program has been a blessing,” said Abigail Ayala, a parent. “When COVID hit we had no support and I wondered how I was going to make ends meet, but Friends– Boston gave us hope, courage, strength, and most importantly, support. This is not just a program, it’s our community and family. I can’t wait for them to expand so more families can benefit from their amazing work.”
In addition to Friends of the Children - Boston, 11 other Friends of the Children locations across the country received gifts directly from MacKenzie Scott. Funding gifted directly to Friends of the Children - National will support the organization in expanding its child and whole-family well-being services through the establishment of new Friends of the Children locations and expansion of other current locations. Over the last eight years, Friends of the Children has grown from five to 26 locations across the U.S.
A message from Simone Biles regarding this gift
The Power of One - Boston (Video)
About Friends of the Children - Boston
Friends of the Children - Boston is a nonprofit with the mission of impacting generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what. Our work has been featured in Boston Globe and The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Visit friendsboston.org to learn more.