< Back to Stories

Stories / History

Our History

How It All Began

Duncan Campbell grew up in a low-income neighborhood with a tumultuous family life. After finding success in business he wanted to help kids who grew up in environments like his.

In 1992, The Campbell Institute for Children, founded by Duncan, conducted extensive research to determine the most effective program model to help young children overcome their high-risk status and realize their inherent resilience and potential. The research clearly indicated that the strongest single protective factor a child can have is a close, healthy and sustained relationship with a caring adult, especially an adult who has positive expectations for the child and involves him or her in meaningful activities.

Duncan established Friends of the Children in 1993 in his old neighborhood. Friends of the Children began with just three salaried, professional mentors called Friends and 24 children. By 2019, Friends of the Children had grown to employ hundreds of Friends who serve thousands of children in 20 sites including: 4 sites in Oregon (Portland, Gresham, Klamath Basin, and Central Oregon); 3 sites in California (Antelope Valley, Los Angeles, and San Francisco); 3 sites in Washington (Seattle, Southwest Washington, and Tacoma); Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Fargo, ND-Moorhead, MN; Harlem and South Bronx, NY; Tampa Bay, FL; and Cornwall, United Kingdom. These children learn the skills and perspective they need to change their stories.