MSU’s Head Football Coach Mel Tucker spoke about his own experience in the Friends of the Children’s mentoring program — both as a mentee and mentor — at Friends of the Children-Detroit’s foster care awareness month gala last May 13, 2022.

He shared how, through football, he has helped young men in the program for decades. He also highlighted the importance of devoted adults in a child’s life, something Friends of the Children-Detroit strongly supports.

Detroit’s own Glenda Lewis, news anchor for WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Action News, hosted the invitation-only gala with about 100 guests in attendance. 

Nicole McKinney, executive director of Friends of the Children-Detroit, said that Foster Care Awareness Month is a great way to highlight the value of mentoring.

“Foster care is just one form of trauma. Unfortunately, we have children in our program who have lost a parent or have an incarcerated parent, amongst other challenging circumstances. These are all traumatic experiences that have lasting effects,” McKinney added.

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McKinney also thanked the gala’s sponsors: Beztak Properties and CIBC Bank.

Friends of the Children-Detroit is a mentoring program for children who have undergone foster care and have faced trauma. Their evidence-based mentoring program works with youth ages 12 years and up. The program supports children as early as their kindergarten through high school graduation, to end generational poverty.

Children who undergo the program are 50 percent more likely to graduate high school, 32 percent more likely to avoid the juvenile justice system, and 32 percent more likely to avoid teenage parenthood.

“While young adults who have experienced foster care are just as likely as their peers to have college aspirations, only 32 to 45 percent pursue higher education after high school. In contrast, 92 percent of the organization’s mentorship program graduates go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve on behalf of the United States of America, or become employed in a living wage job,” Friends of the Children-Detroit reported.

Schools, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other agencies refer children whom they assess could benefit from consistent positive guidance to the mentoring program. Each child is then matched with a professional mentor for one-to-one guidance.

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