Friends of the Children, a national nonprofit that pairs children facing significant obstacles with a professional mentor for 12-plus years, is launching the Friends of the Children — Tacoma chapter and has named Tacoma area resident Melvin Nobles, Jr. as executive director.

Melvin Nobles, Jr.

“I am thrilled and honored at the opportunity to lead efforts in launching this chapter of Friends of the Children,” Nobles said in a statement. “I know from my previous youth advocacy work in the community that this early intervention and prevention model can ensure that our youth facing the toughest challenges have more choices and more opportunities as they enter adulthood.”

Friends — Tacoma will work with area organizations serving families impacted by foster care and the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) to identify and enroll children ages four to six in the program. Each child will be paired with a mentor who will spend three to four hours a week together through high school graduation.

A third-party evaluation of program graduates showed that:

  • 83 percent of youth obtain a high school diploma or GED;
  • 93 percent remain free from juvenile justice system involvement;
  • 98 percent wait to parent until after their teen years; and
  • 92 percent of graduates go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve in the military, or enter the workforce.

The organization is in the process of building a local board of directors and hiring program staff. Interested candidates can visit for a list of open positions.