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Friends of the Children - Boston, Inc.

 555 Amory Street
 Boston, MA 02130
[P] (617) 983-3682
[F] (617) 983-3683
www.friendsboston.org
[email protected]
Cory Berry-Whitlock
Facebook Twitter
INCORPORATED: 2004
 Printable Profile (Summary / Full)
EIN 20-1581289

LAST UPDATED: 04/12/2018
Organization DBA --
Former Names --
Organization received a competitive grant from the Boston Foundation in the past five years Yes

Summary

Mission StatementMORE »

Friends of the Children-Boston (Friends-Boston) creates generational change by engaging children from high-risk communities in twelve and a half years of transformative mentoring relationships.
 
Unique among other mentoring models, we purposefully select kindergartners with the most overwhelming and severe risk factors. Our professional, salaried mentors work intensively with each child through high school graduation in close partnership with their family, school, and community. Each child receives 16 hours each month of 1:1, age-appropriate services. Each child has an individualized strategic plan that is implemented relationally.
 
We call the high-risk children we serve “Achievers” to demonstrate our belief in their potential to succeed, just as we call our professional mentors "Friends" because they are forming meaningful relationships with our youth. Wefocus on a whole child transformation intended to prepare our Achievers to face the challenges of adolescence and adulthood.

Mission Statement

Friends of the Children-Boston (Friends-Boston) creates generational change by engaging children from high-risk communities in twelve and a half years of transformative mentoring relationships.
 
Unique among other mentoring models, we purposefully select kindergartners with the most overwhelming and severe risk factors. Our professional, salaried mentors work intensively with each child through high school graduation in close partnership with their family, school, and community. Each child receives 16 hours each month of 1:1, age-appropriate services. Each child has an individualized strategic plan that is implemented relationally.
 
We call the high-risk children we serve “Achievers” to demonstrate our belief in their potential to succeed, just as we call our professional mentors "Friends" because they are forming meaningful relationships with our youth. Wefocus on a whole child transformation intended to prepare our Achievers to face the challenges of adolescence and adulthood.

FinancialsMORE »

Fiscal Year Sept 01, 2017 to Aug 31, 2018
Projected Income $1,511,250.00
Projected Expense $1,482,800.00

ProgramsMORE »

  • 1. School Success
  • 2. Social & Emotional Development
  • 3. Improved Health
  • 4. Making Good Choices
  • 5. Plans and Skills for the Future

Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

For more details regarding the organization's financial information, select the financial tab and review available comments.


Overview

Mission Statement

Friends of the Children-Boston (Friends-Boston) creates generational change by engaging children from high-risk communities in twelve and a half years of transformative mentoring relationships.
 
Unique among other mentoring models, we purposefully select kindergartners with the most overwhelming and severe risk factors. Our professional, salaried mentors work intensively with each child through high school graduation in close partnership with their family, school, and community. Each child receives 16 hours each month of 1:1, age-appropriate services. Each child has an individualized strategic plan that is implemented relationally.
 
We call the high-risk children we serve “Achievers” to demonstrate our belief in their potential to succeed, just as we call our professional mentors "Friends" because they are forming meaningful relationships with our youth. Wefocus on a whole child transformation intended to prepare our Achievers to face the challenges of adolescence and adulthood.

Background Statement

Based on the success of the program model developed in Portland, Oregon in 1993, Friends-Boston was founded as an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2004. We were the first organization established by the GreenLight Fund, a venture philanthropy firm that identifies innovative nonprofits and provides seed funding to bring them to Boston. Our dedicated staff have been recognized through the Light of Dawwn Awards and the Celtics’ Heroes Among Us. In September 2017, our innovative programming was recognized by the Boston Business Journal by their Partnership Award.
 
We serve 124 of Boston’s highest-risk children and youth, with the majority from the neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan. To meet the complex needs of our Achievers and ensure successful attainment of our 5 intermediate outcomes, in 2016 and 2017, we expanded our Health & Wellness Program and launched a new Financial Literacy and Incentive-Based Savings Program. We also made improvements to our gender-specific programming and our Education and Career Aspirations Program, which helps provide our teens with the professional soft skills and work experience necessary for career success. In 2016, our first class of youth graduated — 100% of who were accepted to and are now attending college. In October 2017, Friends-Boston was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Social Innovation Fund over three years ($100,000 in FY18, FY19, and FY20) to grow our number of children served by 30%, develop new onboarding school partners, and enhance our program leadership team and infrastructure.

Impact Statement

Friends-Boston’s goals for our Achievers can be simply stated, but are long-term:

  • Goal 1: Succeed in school with a minimum H.S. diploma (preferred) or GED; although 41% of our youth have parents who did not.
  • Goal 2: Avoid the juvenile justice system; although 48% of our youth have parents who were incarcerated
  • Goal 3: Avoid early parenting; although 25% of our youth were born to a teen parent

Each year, Friends-Boston tracks short-terms outcomes which have been proven to lead to achieving our long-term Goals resulting academic and life success. In 2017, our Achievers:

  • Successful overall school performance: 94% of youth advanced to the next grade.
  • Attainment of skills for School Success: 91% of Achievers made progress toward or met their school success goals as detailed in their Roadmap for Success
  • Attainment of skills for Social/Emotional: 93% of Achievers made progress toward or met their social/emotional skill goals
  • Job readiness and employability: 43 of 53 Achievers eligible for a job got one. We engaged the others in professional soft-skill development and job preparation. 100% of employed Achievers maintained their job over the summer.
  • Regular school attendance: 88% of youth missed 12 days or less.
  • Avoidance of juvenile justice: 98% of youth avoided the Juvenile Justice System.
  • Avoidance of teen parenthood: 100% of youth avoided teen pregnancy.

In 2017, we also expanded our Health & Wellness Program and launched a new Financial Literacy and Incentive-Based Savings Program. We also made improvements to our gender-specific programming and our Education and Career Aspirations Program.


Needs Statement

Financial contributions: Friends-Boston is a privately funded organization, and contributions fund key program needs for Achievers.

Donated gift cards: Gift cards to stores such as Target and Stop & Shop provide necessities for the families we serve.

Board Members: Friends-Boston is seeking to expand our diverse Board of Directors. We are also looking for dedicated individuals to join our Young Professionals Board.

Corporate volunteers: We are looking for companies and volunteers who are able to provide Achievers with access to professional environments and facilitate learning experiences for children.

In-kind donations: During specific times of year Friends-Boston solicits donations of food, toys, and coats to support our Achievers.


CEO Statement

 

Statement from Yi-Chin Chen, Executive Director:

The mission of Friends of the Children-Boston is clear—to create generational change by engaging children who face the highest risks in 12.5 years of transformative mentoring relationships. Our children face the realities of poverty, frequent mobility, homelessness, neglect, physical abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, parental incarceration, and domestic violence. Research has shown that the single most important factor for building resiliency in children who face the highest risks is a caring and consistent relationship with an adult. Our organization provides that caring, knowledgeable adult who works with the child in all parts of their lives, in partnership with their family and schools.

The lives of our Achievers are stories of everyday success in the face of extraordinary obstacles. One Achiever was selected to be a part of Friends-Boston in 2007, when she was six years old. When she was young, she struggled with her confidence and didn't have many friends. Her family was homeless for most of her childhood. Throughout, Friends-Boston was there for her to her build her confidence, make friends, and help find a place to sleep. Today, her family has a home and she has discovered her passion, dancing! She teaches younger Achievers how to dance; they look up to her as role model and an inspiration. She will be graduating high school soon and she hopes to own her own dance studio after college.

I started my career working with at-risk youth more than 17 years ago because I was once one of these youth. My life was changed when a caring adult believed in me and stood by me until I succeeded. That is what we do at Friends of the Children-Boston every single day. I warmly invite you to reach out to me to learn more at 617.983.3682 or [email protected].


 


Board Chair Statement

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Geographic Area Served

Greater Boston Region-All Neighborhoods
City of Boston- Citywide (please select all areas as well)
City of Boston- Allston/ Brighton
City of Boston- Charlestown
City of Boston- North Dorchester
City of Boston- South Dorchester
City of Boston- Hyde Park
City of Boston- Jamaica Plain
City of Boston- Mattapan
City of Boston- Roslindale
City of Boston- Roxbury
City of Boston- South Boston
City of Boston- West Roxbury

Friends-Boston currently selects children from the Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury and Mattapan, but commits to providing comprehensive mentoring to the students we serve wherever they move in the greater Boston area.

Organization Categories

  1. Youth Development - Youth Development Programs
  2. Education - Educational Services
  3. Human Services - Family Services

Independent research has been conducted on this organization's theory of change or on the effectiveness of this organization's program(s)

Yes

Programs

1. School Success

Goals:

  • Regular school attendance
  • Positive school behavior
  • Successful course performance

Activities:

All of our programming has a direct impact on School Success. This is defined not only as academic performance, but also as behavioral, emotional, and cognitive engagement in the classroom and in other school activities. We enable conditions for children to learn, actively connect school with their life goals, and help Achievers achieve a full range of competencies. To keep our children and youth on track, we monitor grades and attendance, and develop relationships with teachers. We work with and in schools—even in the classroom— and develop relationships with teachers and school leaders, so as to create and mobilize a support network for our Achievers. We connect parents and teachers, sit in on meetings, advocate for Individual Education Plans (IEPs) when needed, and troubleshoot issues like truancy, suspension/expulsion, and homework help. We are frequently the first ones called when there is a problem at school.

Our efforts around School Success are guided by three (3) core intermediate outcomes for our Achievers: regular school attendance; positive school behavior; and successful course performance.

Regular School Attendance: We communicate bi-monthly and in some cases weekly with teachers, tracking report cards, school behavior, school attendance and tardiness. This enables Friends to monitor Achiever attendance, tardiness and classroom behavior, and – at the first sign of trouble – provide interventions with the Achiever, additional teacher meetings and additional services to get students back on track.

Absenteeism and tardiness are a particularly important point of emphasis as Achievers get into high school, it is easy for our youth to begin to disengage from school in small ways, such as arriving late. Our professional mentors have done things like buy alarm clocks, send texts, call Achievers, and have even at times driven them to school. By helping our Achievers arrive to school on time, we help keep them engaged and in a position to learn and succeed.

Positive School Behavior: When our youngest Achievers have difficulty handling transition time, Friends work with them to develop strategies to handle their frustration and anxiety, help them think about the predictable transitions they have each day and help them implement strategies to cope. For Achievers of all ages, it means expanding their horizons and connecting the dots between school success and life success. It can also mean working with bullying or ways to cope with a subject or teacher. 

Successful Course Performance: Meeting regularly with teachers, enables Friends to intervene as soon as academic performance issues arise. This might be as simple as helping with homework or it might mean helping them reconnect with normal life after a tragic life event. We provide in-school support such as assistance with Individual Education Plans (IEPs), team support, and suspensions. Friends often act as support for families during school meetings and help facilitate language barriers. We help our Achievers find and get into high-performing schools.

To our Achievers, school success can seem unconnected to their real life. Some don’t believe that they will live beyond their twenties. Part of what we do is connect our youth with the corporate community and bring in speakers from their communities who can connect the dots for them, and show them what they are striving for. We work in conjunction with community partners to show them different outcomes that they can work towards. We connect it all back to school success.

 

Budget  --
Category  Youth Development, General/Other
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success 
  • 90% of Achievers make progress toward or meet their school success goals (RoadMap Goals)
  • 90% of youth will advance to the next grade.
  • 75% of youth will miss 10 days or less.
  • 85% of Achievers will avoid suspension

 

Program Long-Term Success 
  • Success in School with a Minimum H.S. Diploma (preferred) or GED; Although 60% of our youth have parents who did not
  • Avoid the Juvenile Justice System; Although 50% of our youth have parents who were incarcerated
  •  Avoid Early Parenting; Although 85% of our youth were born to a teen parent
Program Success Monitored By 

There are a number of early warning signs, even at the elementary school level, that help us intervene before it becomes exceedingly difficult to keep a child on track for academic success. Data is entered and reviewed on a weekly basis, then analyzed for each child on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Friends use Daily Activity Journals (DAJ) in TouchPoints by Social Solutions to track information, including quantity and content of service hours, school attendance, behavioral referrals, youth crises, and frequency of contact with caregivers, teachers, and caseworkers.

Additionally in DAJs, Friends actively track the time that they spend on each of the Milestone Core Areas (school success, social/emotional development, making good choices, improved health, and plan and skills for the future) as well as what they worked on to meet Roadmap goals. Once a month, Friends meet to discuss progress towards meeting monthly hour goals, Achiever progress on academic and social/emotional goals, and stressors that are significantly impacting the lives of our Achievers. From these meetings, Friends and leadership team members celebrate achievements and develop strategies to overcome obstacles.

We also collect annual surveys from parents, teachers, and our Achievers to help assess program effectiveness and satisfaction. Each month, Friends track referrals, psychosocial stressors, and Achiever progress toward social and emotional goals; and meet weekly to discuss Achievers’ progress and to develop plans to help them meet larger organizational goals.

Examples of Program Success 

When you meet Dylan*, you can instantly see that he is charming and likeable. He is laid back and gets along with everyone. He will go out of his way to say hello and ask you how you are doing. He is independent and thinks for himself.

But last school year Dylan was feeling disconnected from school and life. He wasn’t trying in school, wasn’t doing his homework, and was getting poor grades. His home life was and remains disjointed. His parents are separated. He lives with his mother in an overcrowded home in public housing. He does not have a bedroom of his own—he sleeps in his family’s living room. He only occasionally sees his father. He has other challenges, such as having a washing machine that is frequently broken, that others take for granted.

Dylan had goals that he wanted to accomplish this school year, but they were unconnected from his everyday life; he didn’t know how to reach them. His Friend helped Dylan take some concrete steps that would help him in school, such as taking notes in class, getting organized, and writing down homework assignments. Then they discussed how his Friend could best help him stay on task, which was critical given Dylan’s independence.

By working hard on his academics over the course of the year, Dylan was able to get his GPA up, which allowed him to accomplish one of his dreams of playing on a sports team. His Friend helped him every step of the way to cultivate this effort, by talking to him about the sport, working on healthy eating, and taking him to professional sports events. To motivate Dylan to accomplish another goal of reading for fun, his Friend and several other staff got together to create a book club to help him have the structure and to create the time to read.

This summer Dylan was old enough to get a job for the first time. His Friend worked with him to create a resume, practiced with basic interview questions, and mapped out his network, which he used to get a job during the summer. Getting his first paycheck created an opportunity to talk about budgeting and another opportunity for them to discuss goals and priorities.

Throughout the year, Dylan made steady progress on understanding what parts of his life he could control and then taking action. He had felt unhappy and powerless, and therefore wasn’t trying to succeed. His Friend worked with him to find his spark and identify positive, incremental steps to accomplishing his goals that has allowed Dylan to have a successful year.


2. Social & Emotional Development

Goals:

  • Identifies relationships with peers and adults who provide social support and connections to resources

Activities:

Friends are trained to engage youth in structured social and emotional learning (SEL), a youth development area increasingly recognized as important for successful school performance. Researchers at Loyola University Chicago recently completed a meta-analysis of 213 rigorous studies of SEL in schools. Students who received SEL instruction scored an average of 11 percentile points higher than other students on key assessments. They also had better classroom behavior, greater motivation to learn, and increased time devoted to schoolwork. Based on this youth development research and Friends’ first-hand experience, we identified nine core assets that are critical to long-term success: growth mindset, positive relationship building, finding your spark, problem solving, self-determination, self-management, perseverance/grit, hope, and belonging. The new performance assessment system will enable us to track a more robust set of intermediate youth outcomes related to each of these assets, which will then inform our ongoing program improvements.

 Friends-Boston works with Achievers on the second goal of developing social and emotional skills (tenacity, grit and resiliency) based on research that has found that the development of these skills are integral to academic success – only when a child’s social and emotional needs are met can they focus on learning. Each year Friends sit down with their Achievers and set skills goals for the year based around recommended skills that contribute to positive development and academic achievement.

We teach our Achievers to identify and positively relate to chosen peers and adults, as well as to identify and engage with formal and informal resources for a variety of social and personal development purposes (e.g., counseling, youth services program, trusted coach, etc.).

One-on-one activities take place at the Friends-Boston space or in community locations, like parks, museums, or libraries. In group work, Achievers participate in engaging activities and discussions on relevant age-appropriate topics, such as community violence or conflict resolution. Through their work, Friends helps Achievers develop important social-emotional skills and build up their personal resiliencies. The development of these essential skills are key to succeeding in the group environment of the classroom and developing healthy relationships with peers and adults.

Friends divide the remaining work with their Achievers based on each Achiever’s individual needs, splitting their time between providing in-school support, working with school staff, meeting with the family to ascertain additional needs and progress, and referring Achievers and their families to essential resources. The flexible and long-term nature of our programming combined with our Friends’ expertise ensures that we are able to adjust our interventions to each Achiever’s needs. It also means that we are well positioned to deal with any acute crisis faced by the child or their family.


Budget  --
Category  Youth Development, General/Other
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success 
  • 80% of Achievers will demonstrate improved classroom behavior;
  • 90% of Achievers will make progress toward or meet their social/emotional skill goals as detailed in their Road Map for Success;
Program Long-Term Success 
  • Success in School with a Minimum H.S. Diploma (preferred) or GED; Although 60% of our youth have parents who did not
  • Avoid the Juvenile Justice System; Although 50% of our youth have parents who were incarcerated
  •  Avoid Early Parenting; Although 85% of our youth were born to a teen parent
Program Success Monitored By 

There are a number of early warning signs, even at the elementary school level, that help us intervene before it becomes exceedingly difficult to keep a child on track for academic success. Data is collected and reviewed on a weekly basis, and analyzed for each child on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Friends use Daily Activity Journals (DAJ) in TouchPoints by Social Solutions to track information, including quantity and content of service hours, school attendance, behavioral referrals, youth crises, and frequency of contact with caregivers, teachers, and caseworkers.

Additionally in DAJs, Friends actively track the time that they spend on each of the Milestone Core Areas (school success, social/emotional development, making good choices, improved health, and plan and skills for the future) as well as what they worked on to meet Roadmap goals. Once a month, Friends meet to discuss progress towards meeting monthly hour goals, Achiever progress on academic and social/emotional goals, and stressors that are significantly impacting the lives of our Achievers. From these meetings, Friends and leadership team members celebrate achievements and develop strategies to overcome obstacles.

We also collect annual surveys from parents, teachers, and our Achievers to help assess program effectiveness and satisfaction. Each month, Friends track referrals, psychosocial stressors, and Achiever progress toward social and emotional goals; and meet weekly to discuss Achievers’ progress and to develop plans to help them meet larger organizational goals.

Examples of Program Success 

Sometimes the biggest breakthroughs happen when you know you have the support of someone who won’t judge you and will help you work through your faults. This is the case with one of the Achievers selected in 2004, Jorgi. Despite the fact that she was bright and eager to learn, at that time Jorgi struggled in school. She was already in danger of being held back when she was chosen for the program. Jorgi acted out in class and was frequently upset due to an unstable home life in which the Department of Family and Children became involved due to concerns of substance abuse. Her father has never been present in her life and her mother was overwhelmed at times by the responsibility of caring for Jorgi and her 4 older siblings with very little support.

Although it has always been easy for Jorgi to make friends, in elementary and middle school it was extremely difficult for her to control her temper, which caused her to be repeatedly kicked out of class and made it difficult for her to complete her assignments. With intensive support from her Friend, Jorgi has learned how to process her anger in a healthy way and is now avoiding physical confrontation and interacting more successfully in school.

Jorgi was one of our first graduates in 2016 and is now in college. Over the twelve years in the program, her professional mentors spent time with her every week, supporting her in school, taking her on outings in the community and helping her build key academic, social, and emotional skills. With all of the obstacles and challenges she faced in her daily life, her Friend worked to ensure that Jorgi was able to remain focused on her long-term goal of going to college.


3. Improved Health

Goals:

    • Healthy nutrition
    • Regular physical activity
    • Understand and use preventive physical and mental health resources
Activities:

 

Healthy Nutrition

Friends-Boston is continuing to improve and build upon our program around healthy nutrition. This past year we were able to offer a healthy meal cooked by our Achievers here nearly every weekday of the year. 80% of our Achievers received a meal at least once a month. Since many of our Achievers suffer from food insecurity and don’t have enough to eat at home, and because they frequently come here directly after school and don’t arrive home until after 7 pm, sometimes the meal they receive at Friends-Boston is the only hot meal that they receive that day.

We set menus every week, and shop for food with Achievers as part of their outings to model how to look at labels and shop for ingredients rather than products. More than that, we make connections. This August, some of our Achievers went to Clark Farm to help harvest vegetables. We grew herbs over the summer and used them on Achiever made pizza. We visited Commonwealth Kitchen this fall to learn about nutrition, food advocacy, and how an industrial kitchen works and volunteer at Haley House. When Achievers make meals here, they make it for all children here, turning it into a community-building event and making sure that all of our Achievers receive good food.

Regular Physical Activity

We incorporate physical activity into every Achievers RoadMap and activities. Our elementary cohort starts off group programming with warm-up games, includes structured “free time” at a playground, and includes activities such as dance and yoga. Several Achievers danced in front of the 300 people at our annual Friend Raiser, which included weeks of training and providing the unique experience of performing in front of such a large crowd. For our older youth, we strive to involve them in sports, both by joining a league, or through playing basketball, tennis, soccer, or other sports in 1:1 or in small groups with Friends. For youth who are not interested in more physical activities, our Friends will walk with them around Jamaica Plain Pond with stops for showing different types of stretches. We use opportunities like the Rodman Ride, a 25 mile bike ride, to engage youth in an activity where they set goals, train, and ride with their Friends.

Understanding and Using Preventive Physical and Mental Health Resources

For all Achievers, we work on “mindfulness activities” in which they think through what they are feeling, how they are showing it, how it impacts others, and the best ways to communicate their wants and needs. Recognizing their own emotions and developing coping tools to deal with negative emotions like anger and frustration helps Achievers de-escalate conflicts, lower their stress, and develop positive peer and adult relations.

In situations where we cannot do the work ourselves, we refer our children and youth to community resources. For example, we work with our Achievers and families to set up doctor visits. We also make referrals to resources like case managers, therapists (both family and individual), and extracurricular activities. In our elementary cohort alone, our staff has made targeted referrals like these to over half of all caregivers. Another of our most common troubles for our children is food insecurity. To help, we both connect our Achievers and families to short-term resources such as donated gift cards to supermarkets during emergencies, but also to longer-term support such connecting them with a food bank.

 

Budget  --
Category  Youth Development, General/Other
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success 
  • 90% of Achievers will make progress toward or meet their goals as detailed in their Road Map for Success;
Program Long-Term Success 
  • Success in School with a Minimum H.S. Diploma (preferred) or GED; Although 60% of our youth have parents who did not
  • Avoid the Juvenile Justice System; Although 50% of our youth have parents who were incarcerated
  • Avoid Early Parenting; Although 85% of our youth were born to a teen parent
Program Success Monitored By 

There are a number of early warning signs, even at the elementary school level, that help us intervene before it becomes exceedingly difficult to keep a child on track for academic success. Data is collected and reviewed on a weekly basis, and analyzed for each child on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Friends use Daily Activity Journals (DAJ) in TouchPoints by Social Solutions to track information, including quantity and content of service hours, school attendance, behavioral referrals, youth crises, and frequency of contact with caregivers, teachers, and caseworkers.

Additionally in DAJs, Friends actively track the time that they spend on each of the Milestone Core Areas (school success, social/emotional development, making good choices, improved health, and plan and skills for the future) as well as what they worked on to meet Roadmap goals. Once a month, Friends meet to discuss progress towards meeting monthly hour goals, Achiever progress on academic and social/emotional goals, and stressors that are significantly impacting the lives of our Achievers. From these meetings, Friends and leadership team members celebrate achievements and develop strategies to overcome obstacles.

We also collect annual surveys from parents, teachers, and our Achievers to help assess program effectiveness and satisfaction. Each month, Friends track referrals, psychosocial stressors, and Achiever progress toward social and emotional goals; and meet weekly to discuss Achievers’ progress and to develop plans to help them meet larger organizational goals.

Examples of Program Success 

Manuel is a 14 years-old Achiever. Ever since he was a baby, he’s had to wear a vibrating machine every night that makes sure that his lungs work properly. In addition, all of his organs are on the opposite side of where they should be. That might sound scary and worrisome to some, but as a kid, Manuel really enjoyed confusing people when he would put his hand on his right chest when they asked him where his heart is!

His family worked really hard at keeping him safe, but his health issues were and remain challenging for them. When Friends of the Children selected him to be a part of the program, school was a real struggle for him. Due to his medical challenges, he was severely behind in reading and writing as well as basic math concepts. Making things worse he also had a hard time building relationships with other kids his age or adults. Friends of the Children and our Professional mentors helped him with homework and school work to get caught up. While taking him on outings to help him learn how to build relationships and find his spark by try new things. Manuel started to improve in school and began to have more confidence in his ability to make new friends

When he and Jesse first met, Manuel was really struggling with ways to convince his parents to let him be more independent. He understood why his parents worried, because of his illness and health struggles, not to mention that being outdoors can potentially make him sick. On top of that, he lived in a neighborhood plagued with street violence. Because of that, he spent a lot of time in his house not getting a chance to see and experience new things.

When he learned about a program a block from the Friends office that allows youth to build their own bicycles, he knew that was his opportunity and he knew that Jesse was the key in helping to make this happen. Manuel knew that it would make him healthier, and give him a way to gain his independence. Jesse helped him with his application for the program, and helped him practice for his interview. We are proud to share that Manuel finished the program and now has a job as a youth cycling instructor!

Jesse is more than a mentor to Manuel. In Manuel’s words, he’s like a brother. Manuel still has health struggles and most recently when he was hospitalized twice this year and had to miss 31 days of school. Jesse would visit him at the hospital to keep him company and bring him his homework so he wouldn’t fall behind in school. When Manuel would get restless in his room, Jesse would take him for walk around the hospital. Best of all according to Manuel, Jesse would text him bad jokes to keep his spirits up when he was feeling helpless in the hospital. To some a text, might seem like a small gesture, but to Manuel that time Jesse spent supporting him while he was in the hospital demonstrates just how much he cares.

In Manuel’s words, 7 years ago, he was a scared little kid who really struggled with everything. Now, he is really hopeful for his future. He wants to go to college and he is prepared to work hard to get there. He knows Jesse will be there to support him every step of the way. To Manuel, Jesse is the best mentor and he is looking forward to riding their bikes together this summer as they get ready to ride 25 miles this fall once again in the Rodman Ride for kids. Manuel’s bike has been his spark, his source of independence and proof that he is a strong young man who can accomplish anything he puts his heart and mind to.


4. Making Good Choices

Goals:

  • Engages in positive extra-curricular activities
  • Engages in non-aggressive behavior
  • Makes self-guided decisions to avoid risky behavior

Activities:

Our long-term goals are for our Achievers to avoid early pregnancy, graduate from high school, and avoid the juvenile justice system. To truly accomplish that goal, we need to demonstrate and teach making good choices in a variety of settings and situations. We work with our Achievers both one-on-one and in groups, here at the facility, in school, and in the community in order to lay the groundwork for good decisions. We work to get them to reflect on risky situations, positively manage enticements to delinquent behavior, join healthy extracurricular activities, volunteer, and refrain from aggressive behavior, risky sexual behavior, and abuse of drugs or alcohol. 

Outings are a core component of how we teach our Achievers to make good decisions. They provide unique opportunities to engage our Achievers, build communication and trust, explore new situations, find their passion, and accomplish individual Achiever goals as defined in their Road Map for Success. We call this Finding their Spark. Your funding will allow Achievers and their Friends go on cultural, educational, and recreational activities around Boston, both one-on-one and in small groups.

Based on cutting edge youth development research and Friends’ first-hand experience, we identified Nine Core Assets that are critical to long-term success of our Achievers. They are: growth mindset, positive relationship building, finding your spark, problem solving, self-determination, self-management, perseverance/grit, hope, and belonging. By intentionally focusing on these core assets through individual and group outings, we are giving our Achievers the best opportunity in life to thrive.

All our activities are intentionally focused in some way on instilling these proven qualities of success, but outings are a particularly powerful tool. Outings help to expand the horizons of our Achiever of all ages. They help our children identify their own long-term goals, beyond the difficult neighborhoods and circumstances that surround them. They help our Achievers “find their spark”, which provides motivation and passion to pursue these goals. Outings provide different environments and social situations that help them gain confidence and make better decisions.

 Additionally, outings provide gender and age-specific benefits for each cohort – Elementary and Adolescent. Our elementary school children are able to practice transition time, impulse control, and interaction with peers. Our younger adolescent outings focus on peer relationships and building interest in arts, culture, and sports. For older adolescents, outings help develop long-term goals, maintain and grow interests, and provide a special incentive for youth who could always choose not to engage with our program.

Many of our Achievers never had the opportunity to travel outside the city and experience and explore the world around them. It is our goal to provide our youth with enrichment based opportunities through hands on experience, service and education. Youth need to see the world beyond their backyards and learn how and why the service they perform relates to their lives and the world around them. Anyone can hand a youth a rake and a trash bag and ask them to clean up a vacant lot, but what are they learning? That is not what builds a quality experience. We stand firm in our mission to provide Achievers not only with memorable experiences but with activities, from which they can learn, grow, reflect upon, and apply to their lives. Achievers become neighborhood problem solvers, rather than potential problem makers. In return we want to reward and enrich them by providing them a quality enrichment service program that links to the goals in their Road Map for Success.

Budget  --
Category  Youth Development, General/Other
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success 
  • 85% of Achievers will attend school regularly (at least 90% attendance);
  • 80% of Achievers will demonstrate improved classroom behavior;
  • 90% of Achievers will make progress toward or meet their social/emotional skill goals as detailed in their Road Map for Success; and
  •  90% of our high school Achievers will be employed over the summer.
Program Long-Term Success 
  • Success in School with a Minimum H.S. Diploma (preferred) or GED; Although 60% of our youth have parents who did not
  • Avoid the Juvenile Justice System; Although 50% of our youth have parents who were incarcerated
  • Avoid Early Parenting; Although 85% of our youth were born to a teen parent
Program Success Monitored By 

There are a number of early warning signs, even at the elementary school level, that help us intervene before it becomes exceedingly difficult to keep a child on track for academic success. Data is collected and analyzed for each child on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Friends use Daily Activity Journals (DAJ) in TouchPoints by Social Solutions to track information, including quantity and content of service hours, school attendance, behavioral referrals, youth crises, and frequency of contact with caregivers, teachers, and caseworkers.

Additionally in DAJs, Friends actively track the time that they spend on each of the Milestone Core Areas (school success, social/emotional development, making good choices, improved health, and plan and skills for the future) as well as what they worked on to meet Roadmap goals. Once a month, Friends meet to discuss progress towards meeting monthly hour goals, Achiever progress on academic and social/emotional goals, and stressors that are significantly impacting the lives of our Achievers. From these meetings, Friends and leadership team members celebrate achievements and develop strategies to overcome obstacles.

We also collect annual surveys from parents, teachers, and our Achievers to help assess program effectiveness and satisfaction. Each month, Friends track referrals, psychosocial stressors, and Achiever progress toward social and emotional goals; and meet weekly to discuss Achievers’ progress and to develop plans to help them meet larger organizational goals.

Examples of Program Success 

We keep costs for outings relatively small; however, the rewards are significant. This past August, one of our fourth-grade Achievers went to a soccer clinic hosted by the Revolution with her Friend. Because of this, two weeks later she signed up for soccer. This is important for this Achiever not only for physical exercise, but also because she has had trouble relating to some of her peers, leading to trouble at school. This opportunity gives her a chance to bond with other girls over a shared activity and be a part of a team. Not only that, she was the one who decided she wanted to play soccer and was the one who drove the process. “Finding her spark”, developing a goal, and taking active steps to accomplish that goal are what making good decisions are all about!


5. Plans and Skills for the Future

Goals:

    • Attain skills for safety and independence
    • Youth can set short and long term goals and monitor progress towards them
Activities:

We work with our Achievers to identify short and long term goals across life domains using their RoadMap for Success. Our one-on-one and group activities help provide the motivation and skills to independently plan and organize school, home, and community activities. We teach and demonstrate safe behavior in navigating typical situations in the community.

One example is how we prepare our adolescents for career development. Friends spend a great deal of time developing a career plan tailored to the Achiever’s individual needs and future aspirations. That plan is then embedded into their Road Map for Success and tied to overall programmatic outcomes and Milestone Core Asset Development. Making the right match increases the success of the work experience for our Achievers by ensuring that youth feel motivated from the start to participate fully.

Finding our Achievers jobs and helping them with required paperwork and records needed is just the tip of the work we must do with them to ensure their future employability and life success. We have to spend time with our Achievers to discuss what they want to aspire to, for many they need us to help them find their spark. We must teach them the soft skills and technical skills they will need to maintain and perform at a high standard while in college or in their desired career field. Only by doing this will we achieve our vision of breaking the cycle of generational poverty and enable our Achievers to write a new story for themselves.

While job placements will be charged with teaching the technical skills Achievers will need to meet the duties of their job, it is the soft skills development that programmatically we want our Achievers to learn. It is important to note that Achievers have also worked on-site at Friends-Boston over the summer and after-school. While many of these soft skills can and will be taught here at Friends-Boston using our one-on-one and group activities, we are also leveraging our corporate partners to provide Q&A sessions, mock interviews, tours, workshops, and internships. The soft skills we are seeking to develop include:

  • Communication:  How to articulate thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively; public speaking skills; writing work-related materials clearly and effectively.
  • Critical Thinking & Problem-Solving:  Sound reasoning and analytical thinking; how to use knowledge, facts, and data to solve workplace problems.
  • Professionalism:  Personal accountability and effective work habits, such as punctuality, working productively with others toward a goal, and time and workload management.
  • Teamwork & Collaboration:  How to build productive and professional working relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and customers; how to work with diverse teams; how to negotiate and manage conflict in the workplace.

Budget  --
Category  Youth Development, General/Other
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years) At-Risk Populations
Program Short-Term Success 
  •  95% of Achievers will progress on time to the next grade;
  • 80% of Achievers will demonstrate improved classroom behavior;
  •  90% of Achievers will make progress toward or meet their social/emotional skill goals as detailed in their Road Map for Success; and
  •  90% of our high school Achievers will be employed over the summer.
Program Long-Term Success 
  • Success in School with a Minimum H.S. Diploma (preferred) or GED; Although 60% of our youth have parents who did not
  •  Avoid the Juvenile Justice System; Although 50% of our youth have parents who were incarcerated
  • Avoid Early Parenting; Although 85% of our youth were born to a teen parent
Program Success Monitored By 

There are a number of early warning signs, even at the elementary school level, that help us intervene before it becomes exceedingly difficult to keep a child on track for academic success. Data is collected and analyzed for each child on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Friends use Daily Activity Journals (DAJ) in TouchPoints by Social Solutions to track information, including quantity and content of service hours, school attendance, behavioral referrals, youth crises, and frequency of contact with caregivers, teachers, and caseworkers.

Additionally in DAJs, Friends actively track the time that they spend on each of the Milestone Core Areas (school success, social/emotional development, making good choices, improved health, and plan and skills for the future) as well as what they worked on to meet Roadmap goals. Once a month, Friends meet to discuss progress towards meeting monthly hour goals, Achiever progress on academic and social/emotional goals, and stressors that are significantly impacting the lives of our Achievers. From these meetings, Friends and leadership team members celebrate achievements and develop strategies to overcome obstacles.

We also collect annual surveys from parents, teachers, and our Achievers to help assess program effectiveness and satisfaction. Each month, Friends track referrals, psychosocial stressors, and Achiever progress toward social and emotional goals; and meet weekly to discuss Achievers’ progress and to develop plans to help them meet larger organizational goals.

Examples of Program Success  .

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

--

Management


CEO/Executive Director Ms. Yi-Chin Chen
CEO Term Start Jan 2016
CEO Email [email protected]
CEO Experience

Yi-Chin Chen previously served as the Interim Executive Director of Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF), an organization that builds the skills of inner-city youth through innovative arts and culture, leadership, lifelong learning, economic development, and community organizing initiatives.

 

Prior to being named Interim Executive Director, Yi-Chin served in a variety of positions within HSTF, including the Deputy Director and the Director of Lifelong Learning and Economic Development. With more than fifteen years professional experience in organizational management and designing social-service programs in both community-based and school-based settings, she is responsible for the creation of several nationally recognized programs, including the HSTF’s Paths to College & Careers Program (PCCP) and the Health Careers Ambassadors Program (HCAP).

 

Yi-Chin received a master’s degree in Social Work from Boston University with a specialization in macro practice, focusing on program planning and implementation and community organizing. She is also a graduate of the Institute of Nonprofit Management and Leadership. She has served on several city and statewide committees, advisory boards, and initiatives on higher education, youth development, and community health, including the Hyde/Jackson Square Main Streets Board of Directors, Boston’s Children’s Hospital Community Advisory Board, Boston University School of Social Work Alumni Board Steering Committee. In 2011, she received the prestigious Hubie Jones Urban Service Award from BUSSW for her outstanding leadership empowering youth and families in low-income communities.

 

Co-CEO --
Co-CEO Term Start --
Co-CEO Email --
Co-CEO Experience --

Former CEOs and Terms

Name Start End
-- -- --

Senior Staff

Name Title Experience/Biography
Ms. Stacy Dell'Orfano MPA Director of Development

Stacy joined the team at Friends of the Children-Boston in September 2014 and serves as a strategic ally to the Executive Director while providing leadership to Friends-Boston as the organization prepares for growth. Stacy works on developing diverse revenue strategies, implementing an ambitious fundraising plan, providing leadership to inspire an increase of philanthropic support, and managing key donor relationships to sustain Friends-Boston plans for programmatic growth and sustainability over the next 3 years.

 

Both a development professional and an organizational specialist, Stacy brings with her over 16 years experience in nonprofit management and strategic fund development. Prior to Friends of the Children-Boston, Stacy served as Deputy Director of MathPOWER, Director of Development for Peace First, a national nonprofit headquartered in Boston, as Assistant Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations at the YMCA of Greater Boston, Senior Development Officer at Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Director of the Foster Grandparent Program in Lawrence, MA, a program she brought to Lawrence in 1999.

 
Stacy serves on the Board of Directors of MathPOWER and previously served on the Board of Directors of Families First. Recognizing the importance of giving back, Stacy is a member of The Philanthropy Connection – a women’s collective giving group. Stacy holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from Suffolk University and a Bachelors degree from Merrimack College. She decided to dedicate her career to public service after serving on two Alternative Spring Breaks in College and began her service to the nonprofit community as an AmeriCorps VISTA.
Mr. Zack Osheroff LCSW Assistant Director for Program Evaluation

Zack is a dedicated advocate and activist for children and families, committed to strengths-based social work and community empowerment. Zack has a dual B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from Brandeis University and a Masters in Social Work from Simmons College, where he served his field placement with FOTC-Boston. He is published in Social Justice in Clinical Practice: A Liberation Health Framework for Social Work.

Ms. Marie Smith MSW Program Director

Marie Smith has been working with youth and families in the Boston area for nearly 15 years. She began her work at Dare Family Services working with high needs youth in the foster care. Prior to joining Friends-Boston, Marie worked with Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention at the Irving Middle School where she worked with students in the Learning Adaptive Behavior program.

 
Marie is a social worker experienced in achieving results with disenfranchised populations. She is most passionate about community building and providing quality service to youth and families. With other senior staff, she lead and execute vision and strategy for all aspects of Friends-Boston programming, integrate best practices in research from the fields of mentoring, social work and education to make Friends-Boston a leader in the field, and provides full oversight of Friends-Boston programming. She has previously worked at the Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention at the Washington Irving Middle School, Casey Family Services, and New Mission High School. She received a B.A. in Mass Communications from Bennett College and her Master of Clinical Social Work with certification in Urban Leadership from Simmons College.

Awards

Award Awarding Organization Year
Partnership Award Boston Business Journal 2017
Heroes Among Us Boston Celtics 2016
Light of Dawnn Award Massachusetts Nonprofit Network 2015

Affiliations

Affiliation Year
Affiliate/Chapter of National Organization (i.e. Girl Scouts of the USA, American Red Cross, etc.) - Affiliate/chapter 2004
Member of state association of nonprofits? No
Name of state association --

External Assessments and Accreditations

External Assessment or Accreditation Year
-- --

Collaborations


CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

--

Foundation Comments

--

Staff Information

Number of Full Time Staff 17
Number of Part Time Staff 0
Number of Volunteers 100
Number of Contract Staff 0
Staff Retention Rate % --

Staff Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 6
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 8
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): --
Gender Female: 8
Male: 7
Not Specified 0

Plans & Policies

Organization has Fundraising Plan? Yes
Organization has Strategic Plan? Yes
Years Strategic Plan Considers 5
Management Succession Plan No
Business Continuity of Operations Plan No
Organization Policies And Procedures Yes
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistle Blower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy Yes
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy Yes
State Charitable Solicitations Permit Yes
State Registration --

Risk Management Provisions

--

Reporting and Evaluations

Management Reports to Board? Yes
CEO Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Semi-Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually
Non Management Formal Evaluation and Frequency Yes Annually

Governance


Board Chair Mr. Allen Nunnally
Board Chair Company Affiliation Foundation Medicine
Board Chair Term Oct 2016 -
Board Co-Chair --
Board Co-Chair Company Affiliation --
Board Co-Chair Term -

Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
Mr. Michael Cleary Santander Bank Voting
Mr. Dana Crawford Domo Tactical Communications Voting
Mr. Juma K. Crawford Grand Circle Foundation-Boston --
Mr. Robert E. Hallagan Korn Ferry Voting
Ms. Ryan N. Krupp Child Welfare Attorney Voting
Ms. Julie Lynch Independent Consultant Voting
Mr. George McClelland Independent Director Voting
Mr. Gary Mikula Birch Hill Investment Advisors, LLC. Voting
Ms. Prapti Mittal Game Show Network, Digital --
Ms. Wyley Proctor McCarter & English Voting
Mr. Dave Shapiro Mass Mentoring Partnership Voting
Mr. John Simon Sigma Prime Ventures Voting
Mr. Robert J. Small Berkshire Partners Voting
Mr. Jeff Somers KPMG Voting

Constituent Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Youth Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Advisory Board Members

Name Company Affiliations Status
-- -- --

Board Demographics

Ethnicity African American/Black: 1
Asian American/Pacific Islander: 1
Caucasian: 12
Hispanic/Latino: 0
Native American/American Indian: 0
Other: 0
Other (if specified): 0
Gender Female: 3
Male: 11
Not Specified 0

Board Information

Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits --
Board Meeting Attendance % 80%
Written Board Selection Criteria Yes
Written Conflict Of Interest Policy Yes
Percentage of Monetary Contributions 100%
Percentage of In-Kind Contributions --
Constituency Includes Client Representation No

Standing Committees

    --

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

--

Foundation Comments

--

Financials


Revenue vs. Expense ($000s)

Expense Breakdown 2016 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2015 (%)

Expense Breakdown 2014 (%)

Prior Three Years Total Revenue and Expense Totals

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Revenue $1,341,222 $893,250 $915,538
Total Expenses $1,175,748 $1,076,650 $972,324

Prior Three Years Revenue Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Foundation and
Corporation Contributions
-- -- --
Government Contributions $8,524 $3,600 $2,000
    Federal -- -- --
    State -- -- --
    Local -- -- --
    Unspecified $8,524 $3,600 $2,000
Individual Contributions $1,036,199 $690,175 $639,673
Indirect Public Support $0 $0 --
Earned Revenue $975 $0 --
Investment Income, Net of Losses $0 $95 $162
Membership Dues $0 $0 --
Special Events $295,524 $199,380 $273,703
Revenue In-Kind -- -- --
Other $0 $0 --

Prior Three Years Expense Allocations

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Program Expense $904,129 $803,619 $711,425
Administration Expense $88,219 $62,669 $62,835
Fundraising Expense $183,400 $210,362 $198,064
Payments to Affiliates -- -- --
Total Revenue/Total Expenses 1.14 0.83 0.94
Program Expense/Total Expenses 77% 75% 73%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue 14% 24% 22%

Prior Three Years Assets and Liabilities

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Total Assets $192,401 $57,760 $148,594
Current Assets $192,401 $56,427 $146,594
Long-Term Liabilities $25,000 $50,000 $0
Current Liabilities $58,608 $64,440 $21,874
Total Net Assets $108,793 $-56,680 $126,720

Prior Three Years Top Three Funding Sources

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
1st (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
2nd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --
3rd (Source and Amount) -- --
-- --
-- --

Financial Planning

Endowment Value --
Spending Policy --
Percentage(If selected) --
Credit Line Yes
Reserve Fund Yes
How many months does reserve cover? 3.00

Capital Campaign

Are you currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Purpose --
Campaign Goal --
Capital Campaign Dates -
Capital Campaign Raised-to-Date Amount --
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years? --

Short Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities 3.28 0.88 6.70

Long Term Solvency

Fiscal Year 2016 2015 2014
Long-term Liabilities/Total Assets 13% 87% 0%

CEO/Executive Director/Board Comments

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Foundation Comments

Financial summary data in the charts and graphs above is per the organization's IRS Form 990s. Contributions from foundations and corporations are listed under individuals when the breakout was not available.

Documents


Impact

The Impact tab is a section on the Giving Common added in October 2013; as such the majority of nonprofits have not yet had the chance to complete this voluntary section. The purpose of the Impact section is to ask five deceptively simple questions that require reflection and promote communication about what really matters – results. The goal is to encourage strategic thinking about how a nonprofit will achieve its goals. The following Impact questions are being completed by nonprofits slowly, thoughtfully and at the right time for their respective organizations to ensure the most accurate information possible.


1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

Friends of the Children-Boston envisions a world where the cycle of poverty and disadvantage are broken, and children are able to create a better future for themselves, their families, and their communities. We create generational change by engaging children from high-risk communities in twelve and a half years of transformative mentoring relationships. Our long-term goals are:

  1.  Success in School with a Minimum H.S. Diploma (preferred) or GED; Although 41% of our youth have parents who did not.
  2.  Avoid the Juvenile Justice System; Although 48% of our youth have parents who were incarcerated.
  3.  Avoid Early Parenting; Although 25% of our youth were born to a teen parent.

As part of our mission to serve youth who have experienced multiple traumas, we partner with local elementary schools in communities with high concentrations of poverty and limited access to resources. Boston has one of the biggest racial wealth disparities in the country: the median net worth of white households is $247,500, compared to just $8 for black households, according to a 2015 Federal Reserve Bank of Boston report. Our annual child selection process is based on a research based rubric and has been found to be a proactive and effective system to target interventions to children that are traditionally difficult to reach:

  • 62% experience homelessness
  • 54% do not have enough to eat at home
  • 52% have a parent with substance abuse problems
  • 44% have been impacted by domestic violence
  • 40% are or have been in foster care (13% currently in foster care)
  • 35% have had a report of abuse or neglect filed on their behalf

As adolescents, young people that have been exposed to violence and trauma have higher rates of learning disabilities. They have difficulties with problem solving and decision making, are more impulsive than normal adolescents, and engage in a range of problem behaviors at higher than average rates. They tend to struggle with interpersonal relationships and their emotional intelligence appears under-developed. The types of stressors our youth experience are linked to over 50 percent of all absences, impair attention and concentration, and reduce cognition, creativity, and memory.

Our professional, salaried mentors work intensively with each child 12.5 years through high school graduation. Each child receives 1:1, age-appropriate services focused on School Success, Social & Emotional Development, Improved Health, Making Good Choices, and Plans & Skills for the Future. We help our Achievers develop social, emotional, school, and career-based skills and instill hope for their future. Friends help Achievers identify special talents, while accessing and finding resources for family, school, and life support. Friends are frequently the primary caring adult pushing our Achievers to succeed. While generational poverty is an overwhelming challenge, we are confident that the cycle can be broken. We know every child has untapped potential and their stories can be changed.

 


2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

Friends-Boston’s model to break the cycle of generational poverty consists of six critical components:

1. We select the children facing the highest risks. Our children are statistically at serious risk of continuing the cycle of poverty in their own lives.
 
2. We employ and train salaried, professional mentors called Friends. Moving mentorship out of the volunteer realm is a key component to getting the quality, consistency and commitment that our children need.
 
3. We commit for the long term. We commit to every child for the long term, from kindergarten through graduation. 12.5 years. No matter what.
 
4. We focus on the complete transformation of each child. Each child gets a dedicated, one-on-one Friend who spends a minimum of 16 intentional hours per month with them. We develop a road map for each child and design activities to build life skills. We create meaningful experiences to explore each child’s unique talents and interests.
 
5. We work in and with the child's community. Friends spend time in each child’s home, school, neighborhood, and community. They are able to provide continuity in these often unstable environments and to serve as a link between the different facets of the child’s life. This means we advocate for children at their school and become someone their family trusts in emergencies.
 
6. We evaluate, measure, and improve. It is imperative for us to know that children are making progress in each of the 12.5 years we have with them. We use the TouchPoints database by Social Solutions to track information, including quantity and content of service hours, school attendance, behavioral referrals, youth crises, and frequency of contact with caregivers, teachers, and caseworkers.
 
Friends spend half their time each month in 1:1 time or in group work where Achievers develop the academic and social/emotional skills, as well as build up their personal resiliencies. 1:1 activities take place at the Friends-Boston space or in community locations. Activities are age-specific, but can include: classroom support and homework help; assistance with job or career exploration; teaching basic financial skills, and; answering questions and talking over issues. In group work, Achievers participate in cultural or recreational activities, peer-to-peer mentoring, as well as discussions on relevant age-appropriate topics, such as community violence or conflict resolution.
 
Friends divide the remaining work with their Achievers based on their individual needs: providing in-school support; working with school staff (including monitoring attendance, behavior, and grades); meeting with the family; and referring Achievers and their families to essential resources. The flexible and long-term nature of our programming combined with our Friends’ expertise ensures that we are able to adjust our interventions to each Achiever’s needs. It also means that we are well positioned to deal with any acute crisis faced by the child or their family.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

Our model is unique, courageous, and proven. We purposely select the highest-risk kids and provide them with an intensive relationship-based approach. It is not typical to accept the highest-risk children because they can be disruptive to other organizations, particularly those who do not have the staff qualified to handle children and youth with such high needs. Having paid professional mentors allows us to commit for the long-haul. We make a long-term commitment to each child, from kindergarten through graduation, no matter what.

Instrumental to our success and also unique to our work is our determination and dedication to follow kids for the long term “no matter what.” Friends-Boston is the only organization in MA supporting children for 12.5 years – kindergarten through high school graduation. For 12.5 years, Friends will engage our Achievers, even if they move, up to a distance of 30 miles. If kids disengage, we use multiple methods of reaching out—contacting friends, for example, when something good or something tragic happens. If they ever return before they graduate, we will always accept them back into the program.

Moving mentoring out of the volunteer realm ensures the quality, consistency, and the commitment needed to give the child a new story and break the cycle of poverty. Compensating mentors also makes sense when promoting multi-year matches with challenging youth. Why? First, parents of Friends-Boston children often struggle to maintain their relationships: Nearly 40% of Friends-Boston children are later placed into foster care. Secondly, Grossman and Rhodes (2002) found that 55% of Big Brothers Big Sisters Association matches didn’t reach the 1-year mark and youth with greater psychosocial risks were likely to have matches end early. Thus, maintaining a multi-year match is no easy task. Compensating professional mentors is one way to keep mentors invested in the life of a child, particularly children who face serious barriers to academic and life success. Furthermore, a 2014 study in the Child Youth Care Forum found that professional mentors who serve multiple children full time build greater expertise, credibility, and authority in their work with youth, families, and educational and social service systems.

Friends-Boston currently has a staff of 17 FTEs, 13 of which are direct program staff. Friends specialize and are assigned to a particular age cohort – Elementary and Adolescent with each cohort being led by a Clinical Lead to offer advanced support to both staff and Achievers. We are highly selective in who we hire, we combine compensation, intrinsic motivation, and required skills in social work, youth development and education.

Friends are trained to engage youth in structured social and emotional learning (SEL), a youth development area increasingly recognized as important for successful school performance. Researchers at Loyola University Chicago recently completed a meta-analysis of 213 rigorous studies of SEL in schools. Students who received SEL instruction scored an average of 11 percentile points higher than other students on key assessments. They also had better classroom behavior, greater motivation to learn, and increased time devoted to schoolwork.

A testament to the dedication and skills of our Friends are two recent awards that 2 of our Friends were bestowed with. In the spring of 2015 Frank Coleman, one of our Adolescent Friends was a recipient of the inaugural Light of Dawnn Awards. Frank was one of only three youth workers selected from hundreds nominated for their work in keeping Boston teens safe. It was an honor for the organization to have Frank recognized and be a part of Dawnn’s legacy. Keisha Gamble, also an Adolescent Friend was honored by the Boston Celtics as a Hero Among Us for her relentless work with her teens and getting all her girls jobs for the summer.


4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?

Our social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum was designed in collaboration with our national network of Friends chapters to instill in our youth the social and emotional assets they need in order to maintain their resilience in the face of difficult and sometimes devastating life circumstances. Based on cutting edge youth development research and Friends’ first-hand experience, we identified nine core assets that are critical to long-term success: growth mindset, positive relationship building, finding your spark, problem solving, self-determination, self-management, perseverance/grit, hope, and belonging.

It is imperative for us to know that Achievers are making progress in each of the 12.5 years we have with them. Data is collected and analyzed for each child on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. We use the Efforts to Outcomes (ETO) database to track information, including quantity and content of service hours, school attendance, behavioral referrals, youth crises, and frequency of contact with caregivers, teachers, and caseworkers.

Each quarter, information is pulled from ETO to generate a robust program performance Scorecard. The Scorecard builds upon our existing systems for tracking academic data by incorporating that data with the social and emotional learning indicators. This allows for a more detailed set of intermediate-term outcomes to be tracked, enabling Friends and program managers to provide a more intentional service to each child, informed by that child’s specific needs. We also collect annual assessments and feedback from parents, teachers, and our Achievers to help measure program effectiveness. We are seeking the following outcomes for the upcoming school year:

School Success

 

  • 90% of Achievers make progress toward or meet their school success goals (RoadMap Goals)
  • 90% of youth will advance to the next grade.
  • 75% of youth will miss 10 days or less.
  • 85% of Achievers will avoid suspension

 

Social-Emotional

 

  • 90% of Achievers made progress toward or meet their social/emotional skill goals (RoadMap Goals)

 

Improved Health

 

  • 86% of Achievers will make progress or meet their health goals (RoadMap Goals)

 

Plans & Skills for the Future

 

  • 90% of Achievers will show progress on Plans and Skills for the Future (RoadMap Goals)
  • 85% of Achievers will be employed over the summer.
  • 95% of employed Achievers will maintain their jobs over the summer.

 

Milestone Core Competance

 

  • 85% of youth will show social gains on 7 of 9 core assets as defined in their Roadmap.

 

Progress Toward Long-Term Goals

 

  • Avoidance of juvenile justice: 95% of youth will not be convicted of a crime.
  • Avoidance of teen parenthood: 98% of youth will not become teen parents.
  • Graduation: 90% of youth will graduate with a high school diploma or GED.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Friends-Boston is committed to breaking cycles, changing attitudes, developing skills and shifting mindsets. We have spent 14 years building a solid framework, helping some of Boston’s neediest children and young people. At Friends-Boston, we do not shy away from actively seeking out and serving the highest risk kids. Children that statistics and parental circumstance say will be high school drop-outs, teen parents or involved in the juvenile justice system. Friends-Boston believes that these are indeed the kids we must embrace and serve and does so by providing them with a paid professional mentor from kindergarten until they graduate - no matter what!

Highlights from FY17 include:

  • Overall school performance: 94% of youth advanced to the next grade.
  • Attainment of skills for School Success: 91% of Achievers made progress toward or met their school success goals as detailed in their Roadmap for Success
  • Attainment of skills for Social/Emotional: 93% of Achievers made progress toward or met their social/emotional skill goals
  • Avoided Suspension: 94% of Achievers avoided suspension and were in their classrooms, ready to learn for the course of the school year (defined as more than one)
  • Job readiness and employability: 43 of 53 Achievers eligible for a job got one over the summer. We engaged the others in professional soft-skill development and job preparation.
  • Regular school attendance: 88% of youth missed 12 days or less.
  • Avoidance of juvenile justice: 98% of youth avoided the Juvenile Justice System.
  • Avoidance of teen parenthood: 100% of youth avoided teen pregnancy.

Based on the achievements of our graduates, analysts from the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon calculated a $7.60 in social return for every $1 invested in our program as a result of higher wages earned and lower burdens on social safety nets and the justice system. This increases to a $26 SROI when familial and generational effects are considered. While generational poverty is an overwhelming challenge, we are confident that the cycle can be broken. We have seen that our model works. We know every child has untapped potential and their stories can be changed. We also believe our communities can be transformed through our model. At Friends-Boston, not only have we changed the perception of what it means to be a mentor, we have redefined what it takes to successfully mentor a child.