Friends of the Children – Tampa Bay hosted its annual Achievement Ceremony recently at Dave & Busters in Tampa. The annual event not only celebrated the completion of another school year for our students, but recognized the dedication of their caregivers and the organization’s professional mentors (called Friends). After a brief ceremony and individual acknowledgments, students, caregivers and Friends were treated to food, games, and an afternoon of fun at the popular game and entertainment center.
At the close of the 2022-23 school year, 98% of students in the Friends – Tampa Bay program advanced to the next grade level, and nearly two dozen students completed Middle School and will enter 9th grade in the fall. These rising high schoolers were each gifted a Chromebook computer to assist with their high school curriculum, with funding provided by a generous donation from Truist.
Friends of the Children – Tampa Bay is part of a national organization which pairs paid, professional mentors (called Friends) with children facing adverse childhood experiences such as being in, or at risk of entering, the foster care system, poverty, abuse, neglect, or parental instability. The Friend walks alongside the student from kindergarten through high school graduation for 12 ½ years no matter what.
Friends – Tampa Bay’s long-term, “power of one” model brings much-needed stability to a child’s life, helping them overcome obstacles, and eventually break the cycle of generational poverty. It is estimated that each $1 invested in the nonprofit returns $7 back to the community.
“Each of the Youth that we mentor has big dreams but faces huge obstacles,” said Rick McClintock, executive director of Friends of the Children – Tampa Bay. “We’re so proud of all of these students who have worked extremely hard in their studies and finished the school year strong.”
Friends continue to meet with their Youth throughout the summer, helping them keep up with their studies and assisting them with summer learning goals and other important life skills.
Founded in 2014, Friends – Tampa Bay has already achieved outstanding results:
· 95% of youth with Friends exited the foster care system;
· 98% of youth with Friends advanced to the next grade in school (2022-23 school year)
Nationally, the Friends of the Children model, executed throughout the 32 chapters including Friends – Tampa Bay, produces life-changing results:
· 83% of youth with Friends graduate high school, while in some communities, graduation rates are as low as 27% for youth without a Friend;
· 93% of youth with Friends avoid the juvenile justice system, compared to 74% without Friends;
· 98% of youth with Friends advanced to the next grade in school
· 92% of program graduates go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country, or become employed in a living wage job.
For more information about Friends of the Children – Tampa Bay visit www.friendstampabay.org or Follow us on Facebook or Instagram.