June 21, 2022

Friends of the Children-Chicago is awarded $1.6 million grant from Cook County Justice Advisory Council to expand our unique and proven services to Chicago’s South Side

The grant will dramatically enhance Chicago’s city-wide violence reduction strategy offering more children and families a positive trajectory and a sense of community

Friends of the Children - Chicago received a three-year, $1.6 million gift from Cook County Justice Advisory Council. This investment creates significant positive change for the Chicago area by expanding Friends of the Children - Chicago’s evidence-based, long-term professional mentoring model to the South Side.

“I’m proud to be part of a county that understands that we need a multi-pronged approach to ending gun violence,” said Taal Hasak-Lowy, Executive Director of Friends of the Children - Chicago. “I’m grateful that the Justice Advisory Council and County Commissioners believe that no one is destined to become involved in gun violence. We share a belief that if we provide a child with proper support, they will stay on a positive trajectory toward achieving their dreams.”

Launched in January 2018, Friends of the Children - Chicago proudly serves children and families who face multiple systemic risks and with the fewest number of protective factors. It is one of 26 chapters of the national organization Friends of the Children, which pairs children facing the greatest obstacles with highly trained, salaried, full-time professional mentors - called Friends - who stay by each child’s side from as early as age four through high school graduation—12+ years, no matter what.

Friends of the Children - Chicago’s approach is about more than prevention, it offers possibility. Once enrolled, children receive positive, consistent support from a Friend to increase the protective factors in their lives by empowering them to build the relationships, skills, and resilience needed to overcome obstacles and thrive. Friends are involved in every facet of a child’s life - school, home, and the community and also work in close partnership with the child’s parents and caregivers – connecting them to resources, strengthening their parenting skills, and empowering them to advocate for themselves and their children.

By creating strong, trusting relationships with both the child and caregiver, this whole-family, two-generation (2Gen) approach helps the family repair and generate new, positive relationships connecting them to community and systems.

This funding from Cook County’s Justice Advisory Council will allow Friends of the Children - Chicago to expand the program to serve children and families living in the South Side communities of Auburn Gresham, Englewood, Roseland, and West Englewood. Friends of the Children will intentionally identify the 4 to 6 year olds who have been exposed to the greatest risk factors, including poverty, violence and trauma and commit to providing them with long-term, intensive support.

“Every child is filled with potential,” said Terri Sorensen, CEO of Friends of the Children.

“I am proud of our Chicago chapter for their bold and relentless commitment to the youth they serve and grateful to Cook County Justice Advisory Council for investing in their empowerment.”

Over the last eight years, the Friends of the Children network has grown from five to 26 locations across the United States. The national organization has set a goal of raising $50 million for its expansion campaign, which is being fueled by public and private investments.