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New York Life Foundation Grant $500,000 To Support Friends Of The Children

Grant Funds National Youth Mentoring Program That Provides Young At-Risk Children With Professional Mentors

NEW YORK, N.Y., OCTOBER 28, 2008 – Friends of the Children announced they received a two-year, $500,000 grant from the New York Life Foundation. The grant supports the National Institutes of Health evaluation of the organization’s long-term mentoring program in Portland, Boston, Seattle/King County, and New York City.

Friends of the Children selects children from troubled families when they are in kindergarten or first grade and provides them with professional mentors, called Friends, until they graduate from high school. This grant provides trained mentors to 128 children selected for the evaluation.

“At the early ages of five or six, our children have already suffered debilitating losses. Few people expect our children to succeed. We start early and we stay for the long haul, pairing our children with loving adults who develop their talents and earn their trust,” said Judith S. Stavisky, MPH, M.ED, national director, Friends of the Children. “We are grateful to the New York Life Foundation for supporting our efforts to broaden the evidence base of a promising practice.”

“We are pleased to partner with Friends of the Children and support their efforts to guide at-risk children in positive directions,” said Chris Park, president, New York Life Foundation. “It is clear that providing positive role models for children starting at an early age has a long-term impact on the choices they make throughout their lives.”

The mentors spend a minimum of 16 one-on-one hours per child with a total of eight children every month, in a variety of in-school and out-of-school activities, enabling a child to form a trusting, caring, and sustained relationship with an adult that can truly change his or her life for the better. The Friends program model is unique because the intervention is early in a child’s life; the commitment is long-term; and only professional mentors are employed. By providing a strong adult role model and a positive reinforcement program based on the young person’s strengths, the Friend helps improve the child’s self-image, teaches effective problem solving, reinforces good decision-making, and guides the child through each developmental stage.

Four of the seven chapters: Boston, Portland, New York City and Seattle/King County, will participate in a study. Together 256 children will be recruited nationally over a two-year period; half will be randomly assigned to a Friend and half to a control group. Researchers will follow a range of social, educational, and developmental milestones to evaluate outcomes for randomly selected children who receive the professional mentor versus a control group who do not. This national evaluation will help Friends of the Children identify the key elements of the mentoring relationship and explore the cost effectiveness and cost benefit of the program. The study’s findings will help position this unusual mentoring program as a potential model for replication with other children from difficult families.

The typical child selected for the program has difficulty managing his or her behavior, is not performing well in school or with his or her peers. Others come from families where a parent struggles with addiction or is incarcerated for much of the youngster’s childhood. On average, the program has a 75 percent retention rate over 12 years and attrition is due mostly to the child’s family relocating to an area outside of the school district.

Friends of the Children’s goals for each child include graduation from high school with a plan for the future and becoming a responsible adult by avoiding the criminal justice system and early parenthood. The success of the first Friends of the Children chapter in Portland, Oregon, sparked replication around the country. Today, there are seven Friends of the Children chapters across the United States in Boston, Cincinnati, Portland and Klamath Falls (Oregon), New York, San Francisco, and Seattle/King County. Together these chapters serve over 700 children.

About Friends of the Children
Friends of the Children was founded in 1993 by entrepreneur Duncan Campbell. Campbell was inspired by his own troubled childhood to start a pioneering new program to help vulnerable children in the same neighborhood where he grew up. Campbell designed the Friends of the Children model based on the best research available in the field of youth development. Together with a team of respected researchers, Campbell found that the single most important factor that fosters resiliency in high-risk children is a caring and consistent relationship with an adult. For additional information about the organization, please visit www.friendsofthechildren.org.

About The New York Life Foundation
The New York Life Foundation is the major vehicle through which New York Life Insurance Company channels contributions to national and local nonprofit organizations. Through its Nurturing the Children initiative, the Foundation supports organizations, programs and services that target young people, particularly in the areas of mentoring, safe places to learn and grow, and educational enhancement opportunities. Since 1979, the New York Life Foundation has donated more than $100 million to national and local non-profit organizations. Please visit the Foundation’s Web site at www.newyorklifefoundation.org

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New York Life Foundation Grant $500,000 To Support Friends Of The Children

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