Friends of the Children: Innovating and Scaling to Meet the Moment(s)
Friends of the Children was founded by Duncan Campbell in 1991. Campbell grew up in extremely challenging circumstances and wanted to use his good fortune to make an impact on the lives of children who faced the same sort of circumstances he once had. The Friends of the Children model entailed pairing a salaried, professional mentor, called a Friend, with each child for a minimum of 12 years. It worked—83 percent of Friends of the Children youth earned a high school diploma or the equivalent GED certificate; 92 percent enrolled in post-secondary education, served the country, or entered the workforce; 93 percent remained free from juvenile justice system involvement; and 98 percent waited to become parents until out of their teen years.
This case explains the Friends of the Children model as it has evolved over the years and explores its capacity to scale (even as a comparatively expensive intervention). It also highlights the organization’s response to the racial equity movement.