Friends of the Children–Detroit is part of a national network of Friends of the Children chapters across the United States. Friends of the Children connects children – all of whom have unique talents – to a paid, professional mentor called a Friend. We hire and train Friends whose full-time jobs are to support our youth to succeed, despite the extremely challenging situations most experience, from as early as age 4 through high school graduation – 12+ years, no matter what.

Our model is distinct, courageous and proven. We redefined youth mentoring by creating the first and only long-term professional mentoring program in the country. Friends are experts in building sustained and nurturing relationships with youth. Our model is evidence informed and research based, and we have proven long-term outcomes to show it works.

This is at the core of what we do. Each day, our Friends advocate and help amplify the voices of our youth and their families who often become voiceless in the midst of the systemic failures. By challenging the status quo, we also help shift the way institutions and systems view and treat our youth and their families. Friends also create meaningful experiences that teach youth to build life skills and make informed decisions, while exploring the child’s diverse talents and interests.

Our model is real and it works.

Our Mission

Impacting generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what.

Values

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 the youth and families we serve.

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-term relationships 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.