November 09, 2022
Friends of the Children’s Seattle and Tacoma chapters receive combined gifts of $5.1 million from MacKenzie Scott
Learn how to these gifts build momentum for our youth to realize their dreams.
SEATTLE, TACOMA (AUGUST 25, 2022) — Friends of the Children - Seattle and Friends of the Children - Tacoma announced today they received combined gifts of $5.1 million as part of several gifts to the Friends of the Children national network totaling $44 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Friends of the Children is the only national 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 chapters to serve more youth in the Seattle-Tacoma area.
“We are so grateful to receive this historic gift to ensure we continue the 12+ years of mentoring support to our youth,” said Lacie West, Executive Director of Friends – Seattle. “The past few years have been full of unexpected, and in some cases, needed change. This journey continues to teach us how to best show up to support not only our youth and families but also our entire Friends - Seattle community.”
This is the largest single gift ever received by both chapters. This incredible gift will allow Friends-Seattle to deeply invest in its recently developed 3-year strategic plan, which focuses on staff wellbeing and development, being an organization grounded in equity, centering programming around the voices of its youth and families, and developing long-term financial stability. The chapter plans on utilizing the voices of its youth, families, and community partners to help guide its approach in maximizing this gift to best serve the needs of the community.
“We are honored to receive this historic gift from MacKenzie Scott" said JR Nobles, Executive Director of Friends of the Children - Tacoma. “We’re especially excited for what this means for the youth we currently serve, and many more we will get to serve. We began our journey as an organization with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and our Friends proved to be invaluable sources of support and resources for youth and their families, many of whom are second or third generation to experience the foster care system. They have big dreams - this investment will give our chapter the momentum to bring services to more youth and families we may not have been able to reach otherwise.”
In the Tacoma area, over 1,500 youth are being served by the foster care system–about 250 of them are between the ages of 4-6. That’s 250 Tacoma youth who would be eligible for a Friend. This funding will allow Friends-Tacoma to expand and provide more professional mentors to support the health and well-being of even more of these children and their caregivers when they need it most.
“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 served by Friends of the Children achieve outstanding results:
- 83% of youth with Friends graduate high school, while in some communities, graduation rates are as low as 27% for youth without a Friend;
- 93% of youth with Friends avoid the juvenile justice system, compared to 74% without Friends;
- 98% of youth with Friends avoid early parenting, while only 74% without a Friend wait to parent until after their teen years; and
- 92% of our program graduates go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country, or become employed in a living wage job.
Friends of the Children 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.
In addition to Friends - Seattle and Friends - Tacoma, 10 other Friends of the Children chapters 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 new Friends of the Children chapters and expansion of other chapters. Over the last eight years, Friends of the Children has grown from five to 26 chapters across the U.S.
About Friends of the Children - Seattle
Friends of the Children - Seattle 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 news stories. Visit friendsseattle.org to learn more.
About Friends of the Children - Tacoma
Friends of the Children - Tacoma 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 news stories in The Skanner, South Sound Business and on KNKX radio. Visit friendstacoma.org to learn more.