January 23, 2023
Friends of the Children- Detroit congratulates Youth Advocate and World Champion Gymnast Simone Biles on her Limited-Edition Wheaties Box Featuring Friends of the Children
At a special ‘Breakfast of Champions’ event, Friends of the Children announces a new Houston chapter.
Friends of the Children Ambassador Simone Biles and Wheaties hosted a ‘Breakfast of Champions’ event to unveil her second limited-edition Wheaties box at the World Champions Centre in Spring, Texas. The box celebrates Biles’ personal journey that has served as a catalyst for her continued support and advocacy for children in foster care, including her efforts with Friends of the Children that have helped the organization launch a new chapter - Friends of the Children–Houston.
“I am honored to be featured on my second Wheaties box and grateful for the opportunity to highlight Friends of the Children, an extraordinary organization that is working to make sure other youth have access to mentors and the support to dream big in life,” said Biles. “I hope my journey can be an example to all children that anything is possible, and I’m excited to help expand access to resources and mentorship in my hometown with the launch of the Friends of the Children—Houston chapter!”
Joined by family, friends, and youth from Friends of the Children, Biles shared her personal journey with foster care and adoption to help inspire today’s youth to not let life circumstances define who they are or deter them from pursuing their dreams. The launch of Friends–Houston creates a larger footprint in Texas and marks the national organization’s 29th location overall. The organization launched Friends of the Children–Austin in 2017.
“Friends of the Children could not be more thrilled to announce the Houston chapter launch with Ms. Biles and the team at General Mills,” said Terri Sorensen, National CEO of Friends of the Children. “Their support was instrumental in bringing a chapter to Houston. It is also such a meaningful moment for our organization–and the youth we serve–to be featured on the iconic Wheaties box alongside a true champion for youth.”
Friends–Houston, under the leadership of Brandon T. Denton, M.B.A., will begin identifying and enrolling children in the greater Houston area to welcome its first cohort of youth ages 4 to 6 years old, and by extension their families, later this year. The chapter aims to partner with key institutions, including DePelchin Children’s Center, Houston Independent School District and Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Their initial focus will be on supporting children and families in areas across Houston who have been disproportionately impacted by foster care and other systemic issues.
“All children in Houston deserve the opportunity to reach courageously for their biggest and boldest dreams, but too many children face tough challenges that may often feel insurmountable,” said Denton, Friends–Houston Executive Director. “I am honored by this opportunity and look forward to ensuring that as many youth in Houston as possible have a Friend by their side for 12+ years, no matter what.”
To date, more than $1.5 million in seed capital has been raised to launch the chapter. Several notable funders and community members have been instrumental in bringing the chapter to Houston, including Simone Biles, WoodNext Foundation, MacKenzie Scott, Axonius, General Mills, Subway, Stand Together Foundation, Duncan and Cindy Campbell, Jim Gilligan, and Kenny and Elena Marks.
Friends of the Children pairs youth with a paid, professional mentor called a “Friend.” Each child will have a Friend from as early as age 4 through high school graduation – 12+ years, no matter what. Friends spend four hours a week one on one with each youth at school, at home and in the community. A third-party evaluation of Friends of the Children program graduates demonstrates the significant impact of the organization’s efforts including:
- 92% of graduates go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country or enter the workforce
- 83% of youth obtain a high school diploma or GED
- 93% remain free from juvenile justice system involvement
- 98% wait to parent until after their teen years
"We are incredibly grateful to everyone in the community for coming together and recognizing that Houston children experiencing trauma are in need of more support,” said Nancy Atlas, retired United States District Judge and Friends–Houston Founding Board Member.
Prior to being selected as executive director of Friends–Houston, Denton served as director of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Houston. Before leading MBK, Denton worked as assistant director of education for the Office of Mayor Sylvester Turner connecting youth and families to enrichment and out-of-school time activities.