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ABOUT
FRIENDS FIRST

The organization serves students, their parents and communities by educating and mentoring teens to make positive life choices and develop healthy relationships.

As youth develop greater social and emotional well-being through our programming, their protective factors increase, making it less likely that youth will engage in high-risk behaviors.

OUR MISSION

We educate and mentor youth to develop healthy decision-making skills and build strong connections to their peers, schools and community

FRIENDS FIRST is a national thought leader and model in the area of youth mentoring and invests in and believes in the potential of every young person. Over our 26 years, we have developed an inclusive, evidence-informed peer mentoring model that our staff and partners employs in its training of young people to mentor other youth in schools across the country. Students who complete our programming develop healthy decision-making skills and building strong connections to their peers, schools and community.

 

The organization serves students, their parents and communities by educating and mentoring teens to make positive life choices and develop healthy relationships. As youth develop greater social and emotional well-being through FRIENDS FIRST programming, their protective factors increase, making it less likely that youth will engage in high-risk behaviors. Youth who have participated in FRIENDS FIRST programming overwhelmingly credit it with changing their lives in positive ways.

 

Over its 26-year tenure, FRIENDS FIRST has touched the lives of more than 350,000 youth and adults through its programming, trainings and community events.

OUR PHILOSOPHY

MentorLife®: always have someone investing in you and always be investing in others.

FRIENDS FIRST takes a Positive Youth Development (PYD) approach, celebrating and supporting the strengths of young people and focusing on positive outcomes. With origins in the field of prevention, positive youth development is defined by the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs as “an intentional, prosocial approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes and enhances young people’s strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.”

 

A further philosophy relates to mentoring as a way of life. FRIENDS FIRST coined the term MentorLife®, which means to always have someone investing in you and to always be investing in others. MentorLife® is a concept that FRIENDS FIRST teaches youth who participate in FRIENDS FIRST programming. When FRIENDS FIRST launches programming, it often enters schools and communities that are considered “high risk.” By embedding programming in every site with the core values of self-awareness, healthy decision-making and MentorLife®, FRIENDS FIRST is able to shift those views and affirm the notion that teens are assets to their communities.

NATIONAL LEADER IN PEER MENTORING

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With a commitment to learning and evaluation, program design fidelity, observation, and oversight FRIENDS FIRST has been recognized with a gold badge by National MENTOR and the National Quality Mentoring System for the effective use of best mentoring practices within our STARS Mentoring Program. Most recently, we were a contributing partner in the national publication of the Peer Mentoring Supplement for Elements of Effective Practice Mentoring™ 4th Edition through National MENTOR.  

OUR FINANCIALS

OUR PARTNERS