National nonprofit Friends of the Children helps high risk children by pairing them with a salaried, professional mentor — a Friend — for 12 and a half years. Last week, the organization announced that it will be bringing its services to the Tacoma area thanks to a $500,000 investment from the Medina Foundation.
“Bringing a new chapter of Friends of the Children to Tacoma is a unique undertaking for the Medina Foundation Trustees,” said Gail Gant, Board of Trustees President of the Medina Foundation and longtime Tacoma resident. “Providing children at a young age with a consistent, caring adult has shown to lift families out of poverty . . . across the country. A Friends of the Children chapter is an ideal way to make a deep, long-term impact.”
Friends of the Children selects kids between four and six years old from foster care and high-poverty schools to pair with a caring adult from kindergarten to graduation. The impacts of this approach have been stark: 83 percent of youth with an adult mentor through the program graduate from high school, although 60 percent had parents who did not; 93 percent avoid the juvenile justice system, although 50 percent had parents who were incarcerated; and 98 percent avoid early parenting, although 85 percent were born to a teen parent.
The Medina Foundation, which has been working to enforce positive change in the Puget Sound area for more than seven decades, has funded a Friends of the Children chapter in Seattle for 12 years. Trustees recognized the success of the chapter and the necessity that its services be expanded to the South Sound.
“The Medina Foundation has a long-standing track record of investing in organizations that approach tough problems with innovative ideas and solutions,” said Terri Sorensen, CEO of Friends of the Children. “We are so proud to partner with them to make the Friends of the Children Tacoma chapter a reality.”
By September 2019, the national Friends of the Children chapter hopes to raise the additional $1 million — on top of the $500,000 invested by the Medina Foundation — needed to sustain a chapter from the Pierce County community.