Friends of the Children Portland

12+ years. No Matter What.

aka Friends   |   Portland, OR   |


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

Notes from the nonprofit

Friends of the Children - Portland celebrated our 25th "Friendiversary" in 2018, marking two generations of youth (230 total) who have graduated from our mentoring program. We call our professional mentors “Friends” because what they do isn’t just a job. They are forming meaningful relationships that build social-emotional skills with our youth and lay the foundation for lifelong resiliency and positive life outcomes. Friends spend time in schools, homes, and communities ensuring the safety, well-being, and educational success of their youth. Our youth consistently achieve remarkable outcomes: 92% of youth go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country or enter the workforce. 83% of youth earn a high school diploma or GED. 95% of youth remain free from juvenile justice system involvement. 98% of youth wait to parent until after their teen years.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Traci Rossi

Main address

44 NE Morris

Portland, OR 97212 USA

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NTEE code info

Other Youth Development N.E.C. (O99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Our model is distinct, courageous and proven. We have redefined the youth mentoring field by creating the first and only long-term professional mentoring program in the country. Our Friends are experts in building sustained and nurturing relationships with youth. We specialize in working with youth who have faced a lot of adversity. We have the data to show that it's real and it works. Our model was founded on research showing that the single most important factor in overcoming childhood adversity is a long-term, nurturing relationship with a consistent and caring adult. Research over the past three decades continues to affirm how much these relationships matter. Our trauma-informed, long-term mentoring model is now being sought after by communities and systems around the country and the world. They recognize that children who've experienced a lot of adversity need more specialized and long-term mentoring relationships that Friends of the Children–Portland provides.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Professional Mentoring

Friends of the Children Portland (FriendsPDX) is an innovative program that fills the gap between what children deserve, and what life has dealt them. Our program alters the course of children's lives by giving them something that every child needs - a stable, long-term relationship with an adult who believes in their ability to succeed. Friends serves hundreds of young people, each of whom have faced a significant amount of adversity in their lives.

FriendsPDX provides youth with paid, professional mentors whose only job is to ensure the wellbeing of the kids they are matched with. Youth spend an average of 16 hours per month with their Friends, working on academic skills, practicing hobbies, and doing fun activities in the community. The long-term nature of these intentional relationships allow our mentors to have a profound impact on the life of each child.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work


Oregon's 3rd Most Admired Nonprofit 2012

Portland Business Journal

Purpose Prize - Founder, Duncan Campbell 2009

Civic Ventures

Orchid Award - Terri Sorensen, President 2012

Portland Business Journal

Oregon's Most Admired Nonprofit 2013

Portland Business Journal

Oregon's 2nd Most Admired Nonprofit 2014

Portland Business Journal

Torch Award for Ethics - Charity of the Year 2018

Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific

Impact Award 2016

Impact Entrepreneurs of Portland State University's School of Business Administration

Exceptional Mentoring Organization 2009

Oregon Mentors

Ethics in Business Award 2008

Oregon Ethics in Business

Light A Fire Award - Innovative Partnership 2012

Portland Monthly Magazine

Oregon's #1 Most Admired Nonprofit 2015

Portland Business Journal

Oregon's #1 Most Admired Nonprofit 2016

Portland Business Journal

Oregon's #1 Most Admired Nonprofit 2017

Portland Business Journal

Oregon's #1 Most Admired Nonprofit 2018

Portland Business Journal

Oregon's #1 Most Admired Nonprofit 2019

Portland Business Journal

Oregon's #1 Most Admired Nonprofit 2020

Portland Business Journal

Oregon's #1 Most Admired Nonprofit 2021

Portland Business Journal

Oregon's #1 Most Admired Nonprofit 2022

Portland Business Journal

Oregon's #1 Most Admired Nonprofit 2023

Portland Business Journal's

Affiliations & memberships

Social Impact Exchange's S&I 100 2015

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of program participants who receive a secondary school diploma or GED

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Age groups, Social and economic status, Family relationships, Ethnic and racial groups

Related Program

Professional Mentoring

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

In 1993, Friends of the Children opened its doors with three friends serving 24 children. Today, Friends of the Children–Portland has 50 Friends guiding, supporting and mentoring almost 500 children across the Portland/Vancouver metropolitan area. Our mission is to impact generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors—12+ years, no matter what.

We meet this goal by identifying the children in our community who face the toughest circumstances and providing them with professional mentoring for 12 ½ years, from kindergarten through high school. Our mentors (called Friends) spend 16 hours/month with each child providing academic support, teaching life skills, setting short-term goals, modeling healthy behavior, nurturing interests and talents, and exposing them to new places and experiences. Our strategic objectives include clearly defined goals that correlate directly to our vision:

GOAL 1: Ensure Nurturing Sustained Relationships and Quality Programming
• Maintain Friends as a high quality program with validated outcomes measured over time--85% will graduate from high school or attain GED, 95% will avoid involvement in Juvenile Justice System, and 99% will avoid early parenting.
• Improve literacy for children as measured over time--show an increasing trend so that greater than 70% of our 3rd graders meet reading benchmarks.
• Improve post-secondary enrollment and completion over time--show an increasing trend so that greater than 50% enroll in a post-secondary program.

GOAL 2: Build Capacity and Capability
• Establish a visible presence in SE Portland by securing a facility that enhances service to youth and our program vision.
• Increase sustainable revenue streams (expected for three years or more) to support and grow the program.
• Hire and retain outstanding employees by developing a culture of leadership and by making FOTC the preferred place to work.

GOAL 3: Broaden Community Impact
• Scale the program--Increase the number of youth served to 475 by 2016.
• Increase FOTC brand recognition as one of the most innovative, effective, and respected mentoring organizations serving the most vulnerable children in Oregon and SW Washington.
• Increase impact through leveraging community partnerships that complement our core mission.

Our most recent community needs assessment found that over 27,000 Portland metro-area children live with multiple risk factors that qualify them for enrollment in the Friends program. In an effort to meet this tremendous need, a core goal of our current Strategic Plan is to expand our impact to serve 475 children by 2016 (currently over 400). In keeping with our mission to reach the most vulnerable youth, this expansion must focus primarily on the growing high-needs areas in East County.

Children who are served by Friends of the Children are enrolled each year during our selection process in May and June. The selection process is intensive and occurs over the course of six weeks within each of our partner schools-- Lincoln Park elementary schools in the David Douglas School District, Alder Elementary School in the Reynolds School District, Rigler School in the Portland Public School District, and King Elementary School in the Vancouver School District. Children are then are matched with their Friends over the summer.

Once a child has been selected, Friends of the Children makes a 12 ½-year commitment to provide intensive mentoring and support to that child. Our mentors spend about half of their dedicated time with their mentees in the classroom, assisting with school work and behavioral issues, as well as providing stability and general support for children.

One of our key strategies is our focus on education, which is the best way for low-income children to break generational cycles of poverty and make a better life for themselves. Yet low-income and minority children often face many systemic barriers to education such as poor performing neighborhood schools, parents with low educational attainment, substance abuse and/or violence in their homes and neighborhood, and disrupted schooling due to housing and family instability. They often face these challenges without the support of consistent adult role models in their lives. Friends of the Children exists to fill that void.

Our model brings together a unique blend of research and practical experience gained from our nearly two decades of work focusing on all areas of child and youth development. Friends' interactions with children are flexible and informal, but never random. Every school meeting, tutoring session, museum visit, and “hang out" session is informed by a set of evidence-based developmental milestones that guide our Friends in setting goals for each child they work with. Milestones include social and emotional development, decision-making skills, success in school, improved health and access to health care, and positive plan and skills for the future. Mentors engage children in decision-making activities, goal-setting, and rewards to help children work towards these milestones, while measuring their progress through our database management program.

While other organizations in the community provide youth mentoring services, no other organization makes a commitment to exclusively serve the most vulnerable children with the same intensity and duration. We are active in the Oregon Mentors network and seek opportunities to work with other organizations who share our goals, but several important elements distinguish our model: we employ full-time, professional mentors who spend a great deal of time with children every week; we intervene early; and we commit for the long-term. Our program works because of several key elements that distinguish us from other mentoring organizations:

- Professional Mentors: Our Friends are highly trained and experienced in handling situations that many volunteer mentors would not be equipped to resolve. For the children we serve—who are some of the most vulnerable in the community—it is essential to have a mentor who is adept at handling emotional crises and navigating challenging situations that arise within children's families, their schools, and the social services system.
- Long-term Commitment: We make a 12 ½-year commitment to each of our children. We promise to show up for them, week after week, year after year, from kindergarten through high school. Friends often provide the only stable relationship in our children's lives, which are marked by changes in caregivers and frequent moves.
- Intensive Mentoring: Children spend 16 hours per month with their Friends, an average of four hours every week. This allows Friends to be integrated into all aspects of children's lives by spending time with them at home, in the classroom, and in the community.

Our innovative program model is based on extensive research into best practices for serving children most at risk for serious negative outcomes. This formative process determined that highly vulnerable children: 1) can be identified early based on research-proven risk factors; 2) must be supported by a caring, supportive adult relationship; and that 3) prevention must begin early, be sustained, and be holistic. Due to the long-term, intensive nature of our program, Friends are able to respond to each child on a highly individualized level, standing by them as they work to overcome challenges and achieve their goals.

Friends of the Children revenue is derived primarily from private contributions from our community. Approximately 43% of our revenue comes from special events. Roughly 28% of our funding comes from foundation and corporate grants; 15% from individual contributions; and 7% of our support comes from our endowment, which supports FOTC activities. Lastly, 7% of our revenue is from the Portland Children's Levy, our only source of public funding.

Our innovative program model has a twenty year track record of successful outcomes. 83% of Friends of the Children graduates have earned a high school diploma or GED, though more than 60% have parents who did not graduate; 93% of our youth avoid the juvenile justice system, though 50% have at least one parent who has been incarcerated; 98% avoid early parenting, while 85% were born to a teen parent.

Based on our youth's achievements, analysts from the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon have calculated more than $7 in social return for every $1 invested in our program. Their analysis shows that children who qualify for Friends of the Children, but don't have access to a Friend, are 3 times more likely to drop out of high school or not obtain a GED, 5 times more likely to be incarcerated in the juvenile justice system, and 13 times more likely to become a teen parent.

Friends of the Children was recently named the number one Most Admired nonprofit in Oregon by the Portland Business Journal. The effectiveness of our model has also attracted national attention from groups seeking meaningful and sustainable solutions to pressing social problems. The Social Impact Exchange lists Friends of the Children on its S&I 100, a list of the top 100 high-impact nonprofits in America, chosen for their effective interventions and validated, evidence-based outcomes. We are also proud to have received a four star rating from Charity Navigator, reflecting our firm commitment to sustainability, accountability and transparency.

The need for intensive support of vulnerable children in our community continues to grow. A 2012 community needs assessment found that more than 27,000 metro area children (K-12) live with a level of risk similar to those enrolled in our program. Between 2001 and 2011 student enrollment increased 6% while the number of students in poverty rose 62%. Due to the drastic rise in the cost of living in north and northeast Portland, families who struggle financially are relocating to outer southeast Portland, where housing is more affordable.

FOTC is compelled to serve more highly vulnerable children. Our 5-year strategic plan outlines goals to serve 475 children by 2016 with a focus on geographic areas of greatest need. We have expanded child selection to David Douglas and Reynolds school districts in response to the concentration of poverty, diversity, and crime in outer SE Portland. We have already grown to serve over 400 youth currently. We aim to achieve growth while maintaining a high quality, effective and efficient program with validated outcomes. Ultimately, we seek to establish our program model as a best practice for working with children exposed to multiple risk factors. A rigorous evidence base, an important criterion for receipt of funding at state and federal levels, is needed to accomplish the vision of bringing our model to greater scale.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback


Friends of the Children Portland

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Friends of the Children Portland

Board of directors
as of 01/29/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Lisa Farjado Faust

Pacific West Bank

Cynthia Campbell


Duncan Campbell


Jeanne Bailey

Standard Insurance

Krishna Balasubramani

Sather, Byerly & Holloway LLP

Christopher S. Brisbee

USI Insurance Services

Ryan Buchanan

Thesis Agency

Lisa Farjado Faust

Pacific West Bank

Bertha Ferran

Community Partner

Lana Finley

CLF Family Foundation

Steve Fogg

Marquis Companies

Pleschette Fontenet


Bill Gardner

Morley Financial Services, Inc.

Allyson Harris

Community Leader

Jon Huddleston

NW Natural

Jessica Johnston


Jay Jones

Data Abstract Solutions

Jenna Mooney

Davis Wright Tremaine

John Nolting


Jeff Nudelman

Schnitzer Properties

Andrew Over

Regence BlueCross BlueShield

John Phillips

Grand + Benedicts

Lou Radja

Lou Radja Enterprises

Judith Ramaley

Portland State University

Laura Rosenbaum

Stoel Rives

Bruce Schoen

Community Leader

Matt Swaim

Ripple NW

Felicia Tripp Folsom

Empowering Leaders Division of The Contingent

Karen Vineyard

Bank of America

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 7/11/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American
Gender identity

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

No data


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/31/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.