Our mission is to help our community’s most vulnerable youth and families dismantle cycles of intergenerational poverty and disadvantage through long-term professional mentorship that supports each youth’s growth and development and assists families in maintaining stability - 12 + years, no matter what. Each of our Friends provides 3-4 hours of 1:1 support to each kid each week.
With a year under our belt, we are seeing the importance of our “2Gen” approach which focuses on helping families identify and proactively address issues, like housing and food insecurity, that might eventually destabilize the home environment. This year we witnessed a handful of families avoid crisis by taking preemptive preventative actions that kept their families whole.
Key Partners: Many of our families have been selected through referrals made by key partners that include: Relief Nursery, Department of Human Services Child Welfare, the African American and Black Student Success Program at Lane ESD and through staff in 4J and Bethel School Districts.
We have also benefitted from significant backing from community members and foundations invested in the mission. Following significant support from individuals that enabled the launch the organization, we have been honored to receive substantial ongoing support from the likes of Nike, the Tykeson and Silver Family Foundations, Quest and Meyer Memorial Trust.
Partner Families: At Friends we aim to partner with youth and families that are facing challenges often connected to their experiences with childhood trauma, systemic oppression and the impacts of poverty. We are currently serving just under 100 people through our model that actively serves caregivers in addition to our youth mentees. We are honored that the majority of youth and families that have chosen to partner with us identify within ethic/racial minority groups.
Communities Served: We began our work last year primarily focused on youth and families enrolled in Eugene School District 4J schools. While our programs began with Friends providing remote services and supporting kids in online classrooms, we were able to transition back to school with kiddos towards the end of the school year.
Starting in May of last year, we were able to partner with Bethel School District to identify families that might benefit from our services. Over the summer we were able to help youth that had missed significant t portions of last school year focus on development of literacy skills and prosocial development in interactions. In part due to changing foster care placements, six youth in this new cohort currently reside in Springfield.
Currently, we are planning to begin services in South Lane County in early 2022. This expansion has occurred faster than anticipated and will allow us to better help 150 people meet their long-term goals while providing 48 youth professional mentors over the next 12 years.