Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $2,000,000)
The Friends of the Children’s (FOTC) Bullying Prevention and Mentor Supervision Project will benefit a total of 3000 children and youth in at least fifteen states who are most at risk of delinquency, violence, substance abuse, school failure and early parenting. Uniquely designed to improve outcomes for the highest-risk youth, FOTC employs salaried, professional mentors ("Friends") and commits to youth for 12.5 years. For 28 years, this model has been successful at closing the opportunity gap and breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty for children who have experienced multiple, compounding risk factors at an early age. The goals of the proposed project are to: (1) provide 12 hours/month of professional, individualized goal-directed mentoring to 3000 youth (enrolling 1000 new youth at ages 4-6) assessed as high risk for later anti-social behavior and delinquency, by granting subawards to the FOTC broad, diverse, and growing national network of chapters; (2) develop and integrate a research-based and culturally-responsive bullying and peer victimization prevention staff training enhancement to prevent justice-related outcomes and strengthen youths’ positive peer development; and (3) address capacity-building challenges across the growing network by re-designing and strengthening program manager supervision training and competency-based Friend coaching support strategies. Enhancements will also bolster engagement with caregivers. Following pilot testing, enhancements will be disseminated across our network and the national mentoring/youth development field to improve bullying prevention and mentor supervision strategies. FOTC will partner with Quality Improvement consultant, Dr. Samuel McQuillin, bullying prevention expert, Dr. Tim Cavell, and a new expert [TBD] who focuses on the impact of racial stress on peer relations. FOTC will measure success by: (1) tracking youth improvement on social emotional learning skill-building, academic outcomes, pro-social peer relationships, and the avoidance of risky behaviors such as substance abuse and juvenile delinquency; and (2) tracking Friends' and program managers' improved knowledge and implementation of enhancement strategies. FOTC will track performance measures using an existing internal Efforts to Outcomes data management system and will not use any portion of the project budget to conduct research. The complex needs of the youth served compel our commitment to continuous improvement and our request for support to continue enhancing the evidence-base and efficacy of our mentoring services. This proposal will enable FOTC to strengthen existing work and expand the program to serve more children. We also aim to share enhancement trainings to strengthen youth outcomes across the national mentoring and youth development sectors.