Friends of the Children SF Bay Area

The mission of Friends of the Children is to effect generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what. Caring, professional, salaried mentors (“Friends”) spend 1:1 time supporting and empowering youth experiencing poverty and trauma to develop their own plans and skills for the future through education, experiences, and the development of 21st century skills. Through tracking information like attendance, behavior and course performance, we have been able to see that when provided with supports and resources, youth are empowered to be more engaged and successful in their educational environments.

Age Groups Served
  • Elementary School
  • Middle School
  • High School
  • Parent and Caregiver Engagement
Geographical Area Served
  • City of San Francisco
  • County San Francisco
  • State of California
Services Offered
  • Academic Support
  • Mentoring
Our values guide us to achieve our mission. Each value applies not only to our youth, Friends and program teams, but also applies to all Friends of the Children employees, volunteers and partners. We use our values to make informed decisions; to hire, coach, and manage; and most importantly, we use our values to change the way the world treats and views youth facing the greatest obstacles. Our Core Values are: • Put Children First: We intentionally serve youth who are facing the greatest obstacles. To help our youth discover their limitless potential, we foster their internal resiliency. We listen to our youth and base decisions on each youth’s needs and dreams. We prioritize self-care so that we bring our best selves to our work and focus on our youth. • Build Relationships on Love: We nurture long-relationship from a foundation of love, acceptance, and culturally-informed practice. We don’t give up easily and take a “no matter what!” approach to our work. We commit for the long-term. We intentionally develop collaborative relationships over time with trust, empathy, and healthy communication. We believe that we build community through one-on-one connections that are authentic, respectful, and meaningful. • Commit to Empowerment: We leverage personal strengths to take ownership of our futures. We build relationships within the communities of our youth and families to strengthen social networks and provide bridges to new opportunities. We consistently inspire possibility through empathy, hard work, and fun. We model all of this for our youth, families, and each other. • Pursue Goals Relentlessly: We celebrate all achievements, big and small. We are disciplined in our commitment to goals, while innovative in how we reach them. We believe that the definition of success requires intentional reflection and adjustment over time. We work together and hold ourselves accountable with data to achieve short and long-term outcomes. • Demand Equity: We acknowledge the historical and present injustices impacting marginalized communities. We demand equity from ourselves and from our community. We insist that all people have the necessary support to achieve all of their hopes and dreams. We amplify the voices of our children, families, and communities. We bring together different experiences, skills, and backgrounds to provide opportunities to overcome personal, systemic, and institutional barriers.
Like all children, the youth we serve have unique talents, varied interests and big dreams. Unlike other programs, we exclusively focus on youth who are also facing the greatest systemic obstacles and who have lived through intense trauma. Our youth have experienced multiple adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) by the time they reach kindergarten. We partner with our partner schools to identify children ages 4 to 6 who could most benefit from a relationship with a Friend. We select children who live in the Bayview Hunters Point, Visitacion Valley and Potrero Hill communities, and commit to stay with them as long as they live within 20 miles of our headquarters. Once enrolled, each child is matched with a Friend -- a full-time, salaried professional mentor -- who spends 14-16 hours per month in service to each of 8 children. Friends serve youth in their schools, in their homes and in the community. Friends spend 1:1 time assisting youth in setting and achieving individualized Road Map goals in intermediate outcome areas of Social and Emotional Development, School Success, Making Good Choices, Plans and Skills for the Future, and Improved Health. To ensure the social emotional development of each youth, we work with each youth to develop nine research-based Core Assets: growth mindset, positive relationship building, find your spark, problem-solving, self-determination, self-management, perseverance/grit, hope and belonging. To find ways to serve our youth better and ensure our efforts are data-informed, we have a strong commitment to internal performance management as well as third party research and evaluation. We have a 27-year track record of evidence-based outcomes, and our focus on evidence to drive performance is something that sets up apart. We measure progress and achievement in our Program Performance Scorecard (PPS), which ensures efficiency and accountability for progress towards goals. Friends record every meeting and interaction with or concerning youth in our Efforts to Outcome (ETO) database management system. Friends input academic data (school records and results), their contacts with families, and information about support during crises and challenges in the home, in addition to their own assessments of youth progress towards goals. Once a year, youth complete their own surveys, which are also recorded in ETO. Data is reported back in a scorecard platform on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis, so that Friends can reflect and adjust their work in alignment with youth progress and needs. In addition to the internal performance management that drives continuous improvement, Friends of the Children is committed to extensive external research and evaluation. Some of our current external evaluations include: a 12-year Randomized Control Trial; a qualitative Caregiver Study funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation; and, a Return on Investment study conducted by the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon, which found that over the lifetime of each program youth, we are saving the community $900,000. With long-term, consistent support and love, even youth facing the toughest challenges can tap into their innate potential. Across the Friends of the Children network, third-party evaluation has demonstrated the long-term impact of our model: • 83% of our program graduates earn a high school diploma or GED; • 93% avoid the juvenile justice system; • 98% avoid early parenting; and • 92% go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country, or find employment.

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