Allison Pauletto selected as executive director.
VANCOUVER, Wash. - Friends of the Children, a national nonprofit that pairs children who face multiple systemic obstacles with a salaried, professional mentor called a Friend for 12+ years, announced today that they are launching a Friends of the Children–Southwest Washington chapter and have named Vancouver resident, Allison Pauletto as the executive director.
“Every child in Southwest Washington deserves the opportunity to dream big and reach their goals, but too many children face a lot of adversity that can seem impossible to overcome,” said Pauletto, a Vancouver resident who was selected to lead the chapter after 13 years at Friends of the Children–Portland. “We have already been serving area youth and have seen the difference it can make when they are empowered with consistent, long-term love and support.”
Friends–Southwest Washington has grown intentionally from the founding chapter in Portland, OR. The organization, which was founded by entrepreneur Duncan Campbell more than 25 years ago, specializes in serving youth who have been impacted by extreme poverty, foster care, parental incarceration, trauma, housing instability, isolation and other obstacles that create instability.
Friends of the Children is currently serving nearly 60 youth in 18 schools across the Vancouver, Evergreen and Battle Ground school districts. The new chapter is currently selecting children ages 5 and 6 from Evergreen Public Schools. They will continue to partner with Boys and Girls Clubs of Southwest Washington, the Children’s Center, Clark County YMCA and Friends–Portland to connect youth and families to programs and services.
Each child selected is paired with a Friend whose full-time job is to spend four hours a week with each child at school, at home and in the community. Friends will work with youth for 12+ years, building trusting relationships through a trauma-informed lens that is culturally-responsive and provides critical social, emotional and academic support.
“I am thrilled to have Allison step into this role and get our new chapter off to a strong start,” said Michele Goodwin, who co-chaired the expansion campaign with her husband, Greg, and is the newly-appointed board chair of Friends–Southwest Washington. “Her history with our campaign, with the Portland chapter, and as a leader in the Southwest Washington community, made her hands-down the best person for this role.”
The organization, which was founded in Portland, Ore., by entrepreneur Duncan Campbellmore than 25 years ago, specializes in serving youth who have been impacted by extreme poverty, foster care, parental incarceration, trauma, housing instability, isolation and other obstacles that create instability.
In Clark County, 13 percent of children under age 5 were living in poverty in 2018 and in 2019, there were more than 520 children in foster care, according to the Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families. A recent report showed that 133 Clark County families with children experienced homelessness in 2019.
Research funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation showed that the presence of a Friend in a child’s life benefits the entire family. Another recent CDC report called out the practice of mentoring as a promising strategy for preventing and lessening the impact of childhood trauma. A third-party evaluation of Friends of the Children program graduates showed that:
Vancouver Philanthropist Michele Goodwin and her spouse Greg Goodwin, who is the national board chair of Friends of the Children, saw the increasing need for a larger presence in Southwest Washington. Along with Pauletto, the Goodwins led efforts to raise $2.8 million through a founders circle of nearly 70 Vancouver area residents.
“I’ve known about Friends of the Children for quite a while and have seen firsthand the tremendous difference a Friend can have in the lives of children in our schools,” said Scott Munro, executive director of Elementary Education at Evergreen School District in Southwest Washington. “When kids have more support outside the classroom, they do better in school. I’m thrilled the community made it happen.”
Prior to being selected as Friends–Southwest Washington’s executive director, Pauletto, a Hudson’s Bay High School alum who lives in Vancouver with her spouse and two children, was with Friends–Portland for 13 years, most recently serving as the chief development officer. During her time at Friends–Portland, the organization’s budget grew from just under $2 million to $6.5 million and led Portland’s highest-grossing nonprofit fundraiser, “Friend Raiser.” She was also instrumental in the creation of the first Ambassador Board and their annual Bowl-A-Thon. She received her Sociology degree from Portland State University.
In addition to the new Vancouver location, Friends of the Children serves youth in Tacoma and Seattle, Wash., and at four locations throughout Oregon, bringing the total number of locations nationwide to 21.
Friends–Southwest Washington is in the process of building a local Board of Directors and hiring staff. Interested candidates can visit friendsswwa.org for a list of open positions.