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August 25, 2022

Friends of the Children – Klamath Basin and Friends of the Children’s national network receive $44 million from MacKenzie Scott to support its long-term mentoring model

Gift gives organization powerful momentum to provide more Klamath Basin youth with big dreams who face systemic obstacles with a paid, professional mentor for 12+ years

Friends of the Children - Klamath Basin announced today that the organization received a $1.1 million gift as part of a $44 million gift to the national organization Friends of the Children from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. Friends of the Children is the only mentoring program in the country with paid, professional mentors (called Friends) who walk alongside youth for 12+ years no matter what. This gift offers powerful momentum for the organization to serve more children in the Klamath Basin facing obstacles like poverty and foster care.

“We are honored to receive this historic gift from MacKenzie Scott, said Amanda Squibb, Executive Director of Friends of the Children - Klamath Basin. “For the last 22 years, our community members have been a major supportive force, allowing our work to deeply impact communities throughout the Basin. We’re especially excited for what this means for the youth and families we currently serve, and those we will get to serve. Our youth and their families have big dreams - this investment will accelerate our expansion plans, give our chapter the momentum to be more responsive to their needs, and sustain the services we offer no matter what the economy brings.”

This is the largest single gift ever received by the chapter. The funding will support the organization in both sustaining its commitment to serve youth for 12 years as well as growing the number of youth and families it serves, especially those historically harder to reach due to distance and lack of resources. This includes developing a youth meeting space in Chiloquin to better serve youth in this area, strengthening the services to provide long-term stability for youth and their caregivers, and meeting other urgent programming needs.

“I know from my own experiences that children often face a lot of hard things as they grow up and the love and support I received after my foster care experience allowed me to thrive and see myself for all that I could be,” said Simone Biles, youth advocate and Olympic gymnast. “That’s why I believe the long-term mentorship that Friends of the Children provides is so meaningful—having just one person who believes in you can truly impact a young person’s life. I am excited that MacKenzie Scott is investing in Friends of the Children to empower more youth across the country! In supporting Friends of the Children, it is my hope that more children will have access to a ‘Friend’ and be inspired to pursue their hopes and dreams in all communities, including my hometown of Houston, Texas.”

Youth in Friends of the Children - Klamath Basin—many of whom have been impacted by poverty, foster care, and other obstacles — achieve outstanding results:

· 89% of graduates earn a diploma or GED;

· 96% graduates postpone parenting until after the teen years;

· 100% graduates remain free from juvenile justice involvement

Friends– Klamath Basin pairs youth with big dreams who have been impacted by systemic inequities, which may include poverty, foster care and criminal justice system involvement, and other childhood traumatic experiences, with “Friends” who stay by each child’s side from as early as age 4 through high school graduation.

“Empowering children is at the core of the work,” said Jose Hernandez, Professional Mentor at Friends of the Children - Klamath Basin. “This incredible gift will support our work as we focus on rural youth, many of whom are experiencing poverty or impacted by the foster care system. Long-term, one-on-one relationships between Friends and youth can bring healing, stability and consistency to a child’s life, and open up pathways to opportunity for both youth and their families.”

In addition to Friends of the Children - Klamath Basin, 11 other Friends of the Children locations across the country received gifts directly from MacKenzie Scott. Funding gifted directly to Friends of the Children - National will support the organization in expanding its child and whole-family well-being services through the establishment of new Friends of the Children locations and expansion of other current locations. Over the last eight years, Friends of the Children has grown from five to 26 locations across the U.S.

A message from Simone Biles regarding this gift