Michael Jordan Helps Get a Big Win for Mentoring Program that Works with At-Risk Youth

NBA legend Michael Jordan has made a big contribution to Friends of the Children, an effort to provide long-term mentoring to children.

Friends of the Children, a Portland-based nonprofit that provides paid, intensively trained mentors to at-risk youth for more than 12 years, just got a boost to its national expansion campaign from basketball legend Michael Jordan.

While the exact amount of the donation hasn’t been disclosed, a press release today dubbed it a “multimillion-dollar investment in the organization with the donation of his proceeds from his upcoming ESPN Films and Netflix documentary series, ‘The Last Dance.’”

Jordan cited his own benefit from working with mentors as the reason for the donation.

“What stood out to me about Friends of the Children was that they employ and train their mentors and that they commit to every child for 12½ years,” Jordan said in a press release. “That dedication is important to me. My mentors believed in me and taught me the power of perseverance. I want youth in Friends of the Children to see that they have that same potential.”

Earlier this year, Friends of the Children announced an ambitious campaign to expand to 25 cities, including Los Angeles; Central Oregon; Charlotte, N.C.; Austin, Texas; and Chicago.

Friends of the Children is unique to other mentorship programs in that its mentors are paid for their time spent mentoring youth ages 16-24. Mentors work with eight kids each, spending at least 16 hours a month with them while participating in a variety of activities together.

The donation from Jordan helped Friends of the Children achieve its goal of raising $25 million by the end of the year.

“Two years ago we launched a $25 million expansion campaign to take our evidence-based model to more children, and really begin to change systems, particularly the foster care system,” said Terri Sorensen, Friends of the Children CEO in an interview with The Chronicle of Social Change earlier this year. “Last year we got the Social Innovation Fund grant. That’s really the catalyst. All of our new cities are receiving those funds.”

Jordan’s donation, the second made by him, will fund the expansion of the program to Charlotte and Chicago.

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Kim Phagan-Hansel
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