Chef says ‘a truly remarkable gift…will catalyze our future growth’ in the region
BEND, OR (KTVZ) — Friends of Children – Central Oregon announced on Thursday that the organization has received $1.4 million as part of a $44 million donation to the national organization children’s friends billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.
Friends of the Children, a partner of 21 Cares for Kids, is the only national mentoring program in the country with paid professional mentors (called Friends) who walk alongside young people for more than 12 years, no matter what.
“This donation gives the organization a powerful boost to serve more children in central Oregon, many of whom are in – or at risk of entering – the foster care system,” the organization said in his announcement, which continues below.
“We are honored to receive this truly remarkable gift from MacKenzie Scott,” said Rachel Cardwell, Executive Director of Friends – Central Oregon. “This donation will catalyze our future growth and expansion across the region. It will allow us to partner in ways we could not have imagined.
“The timing couldn’t be better, as we celebrate five years of service and prepare to welcome our incoming cohort from La Pine. Over the next few months, we will incorporate these funds into a new strategic plan, which will leverage our new 19-acre ranch for learning and discovery, and deepen our work with youth and families. We are thrilled with what this gift means for our youth, and for the many others we can and will serve through this investment.
This is the largest donation ever received by the chapter. The funding will help the 5-year-old organization maintain its commitment to being with young people for more than 12 years, no matter what, as well as increase the number of young people and families it serves, drawing lessons from its most recent expansion into serving La Pine and leveraging the chapter’s 19-acre ranch for youth learning and discovery.
Simone Biles, youth advocate and Olympic gymnast, said: “I know from my own experience that children often face a lot of difficult things as they grow up and the love and support I received after my experience in foster care allowed me to thrive and see myself for all that I could be.”
“That’s why I believe the long-term mentorship that Friends of the Children provides is so important — having just one person who believes in you can really impact a young person’s life. I’m thrilled that MacKenzie Scott is investing in Friends of the Children to empower more young people across the country! By supporting Friends of Children, I hope 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. »
Young people from Friends of the Children – many of whom have been impacted by foster care – are performing exceptionally well given national statistics on young people leaving foster care:
· 83% of youth with friends graduate from high school, while in some communities graduation rates are as low as 27% for youth without friends;
· 93% of youth with Friends avoid the juvenile justice system, compared to 74% without Friends;
· 98% of youth with friends avoid parenting at an early age, while only 74% without friends wait to parent until after their teenage years; and
· 92% of graduates from our program go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country or gain gainful employment.
Friends – The Oregon center connects young people with big dreams who have been impacted by systemic inequalities, which can include poverty, foster care and criminal justice system involvement, and other traumatic childhood experiences with “friends” who stay by each child’s side from 4 years of age through high school graduation.
“The core of our work is to give those who need us most the best opportunity to have a perspective different from where they are right now,” said Aaron Hinkley, Professional Mentor at Friends – Central Oregon. “When it comes to being a mentor, we demonstrate grace, humility, and role models of skills that will ultimately help change cyclical poverty – self-determination and management, perseverance, and a growth mindset. We are also family friends.This gift will impact them all and more.
In addition to Friends – Central Oregon, 11 other Friends of the Children locations across the country received gifts directly from MacKenzie Scott. Funding provided directly to Friends of the Children – National will help the organization expand its wellness services for children and the whole family through new Friends of the Children locations and the expansion of other current locations. Over the past eight years, Friends of the Children has grown from five to 26 locations across the United States.