Insights, News

16 Years Later, Partnership Fuels Innovation

Feb 7, 2022


In 2004, GreenLight Fund selected their first organization to invest in for a Boston expansion: Friends of the Children. About 16 years later, Friends of the Children Boston wanted to expand their model to be two-generational, intentionally working with both children and caregivers. And, using a new innovative approach, GreenLight invested in them again for this expansion of their work that would multiply their program’s impact in Boston.

Friends of the Children creates generational change by engaging children from high risk-communities in 12 years of transformative mentoring relationships. Each participant is paired with a dedicated, one-on-one Friend who spends a minimum of 16 intentional hours per month with them.

In 2020, during the height of the pandemic, GreenLight Boston took a step back, paused the current selection cycle, and listened to what the community needs were in that moment. And the needs were urgent. We learned it wasn’t the right time to invest in a new organization to expand to Boston, but rather to re-invest in some of the successful and effective organizations already in our city: our portfolio organizations.

GreenLight Boston created a Portfolio Advisory Council (PAC) as a way to deepen our impact in the community during a time of such need. The PAC is a group of 10-15 philanthropists, innovators, and investors who advise and guide GreenLight Boston’s portfolio organizations in their efforts to grow and scale across the region. The PAC has allowed us to continue innovating and expanding our definition of portfolio support, and it only makes sense that our first PAC investment was once again, Friends of the Children Boston. In keeping with GreenLight’s model and values, this investment, like our initial investments, includes not only funding but other support including coaching, advising, and technical support.

This re-investment in Friends of the Children means that they are able to build their two-generation model, and do so in a meaningful way by including steps like assembling a caregiver advisory council to advise and guide the design and implementation. They wanted to support caregivers in a way that empowered them to manage their families’ lives, because children are most likely to succeed when their caregivers do, too. Once their two-generation model is fully implemented, Friends of the Children expects to serve over 530 individuals in Boston! “There are often times where I have youth that may be a little reluctant to do things,” Shané Lewis, who manages the Friends of the Children’s adolescent program, says. “But having their caregiver being really invested in it, in modeling at home, I think it’s going to help the success rate of getting kids to do certain things and feeling really confident.”

We are so grateful for the work being done by our portfolio organizations, and are excited to see how the creation of the PAC will continue to support these organizations opening opportunities for children, youth, and families in Boston and across our network.

Even once an organization is no longer receiving active funding, they are always in the GreenLight family. And the history of Friends of the Children Boston lives out that statement. To learn more about Friends of the Children’s new two-generational model, read The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s recent article highlighting their work.