FRIENDS FIRST was founded by Dr. Lisa Rue in 1993.
Our original focus was on healthy relationships for teens, with an emphasis on dating and teen pregnancy prevention. As FRIENDS FIRST began to expand its reach, we realized that the need for (and value of) healthy relationships was not limited to dating.
FRIENDS FIRST began to focus on relationships between teens and their peers, parents, authority figures, and the community at large. Over time, we realized that one of the most critical relationships is the one between a TEEN and a MENTOR.
In 1996 FRIENDS FIRST developed its signature program: STARS (Students Teaching About Relationships and Success). STARS is a peer mentoring program that provides adult mentoring to high school students, who in turn mentor younger teens.
Today FRIENDS FIRST impacts nearly 7,500 students and adults every year through its STARS mentoring program, positive youth development classroom curriculum, school assemblies, community-based trainings, and youth leadership conferences. FRIENDS FIRST uses innovative programs, incorporates research-based best practices, partners with parents and schools, leverages community partnerships and employs an experienced, professional, and caring staff to support, encourage, educate and mentor teens. Through a positive youth development approach FRIENDS FIRST seeks to increase school engagement, graduation rates, positive relationships, leadership skills and opportunities for teens to be successful now and in the future.