A philanthropic gift of $6 million should mean a significant bump in the number of disadvantaged kids who will benefit from one-on-one adult mentoring from as young as age 4 through high school.
Friends of the Children, a national nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon, with offices in more than 20 cities, announced the gift this month. Friends CEO Terri Sorensen said the Echo Fund’s investment “comes at a watershed moment for children and families across the country.”
“Children and families need more support than ever before to recover from the pandemic,” Sorensen said. “This gift will allow us to create the Friends of the Children Social Impact Fund to support the expansion of partnerships with additional rural and tribal communities.” Spokesperson Ariane Le Chevallier said the funds will also be used for “our national capacity in the areas of racial equity and systems change.”
The Washington-based Echo Fund was founded by tire center magnate Les Schwab’s granddaughter, Diana Tomseth, and the donation was made in her late grandfather’s honor. Echo Fund has made previous gifts to the mentoring nonprofit.
Friends of the Children pays professional mentors to stand by a particular child long term, through thick and thin. The organization matches adult mentors with children who have endured trauma and systemic obstacles from their earliest days.
Thomseth’s philanthropy seeks to improve the odds of a good outcome for children and families impacted by foster care, substance use disorders and the criminal justice system. She said she was moved to give the $6 million gift over the next two years because her grandfather readily acknowledged that his own path to success was paved by those who mentored him when he was a poor youngster.
To get the money, Friends of the Children must raise an equal amount of money at the national level and local level.