Oregon Philanthropist Duncan Campbell releases new biography. Friends of the Children founder shares details of a dark childhood and what drives him to support thousands of children who face multiple systemic obstacles.
July 12, 2016
PORTLAND, Ore. – PRNewswire / Duncan Campbell, the founder of Campbell Global, has released a biography. Published by Ampelon, "The Art of Being There" chronicles Campbell's harrowing childhood, his rise to college graduate to multimillionaire to social entrepreneur, and how he came to found Friends of the Children, a not-for-profit organization that breaks the cycle of generational poverty for the most at-risk children.
Campbell, a Portland, Ore., native, recounts a childhood marked by neglect and abuse at the hands of alcoholic parents. Campbell worked multiple jobs to put himself through school, became a certified public accountant for Arthur Anderson during the company's heyday, and in 1983 created Campbell Global, one of the first natural resources investment firms, now responsible for more than 3 million acres of land worldwide. In 1993, upon selling Campbell Global and founding Friends of the Children, Campbell made good on a promise that if he became wealthy, he'd come back for the children who have experienced the greatest amount of trouble and heartache in their lives.
"Most people think I had a great mentor growing up, and that's why I started the program, but it was because I didn't have one that I knew how important a Friend could be," said Campbell.
What makes Friends' model uniquely effective is that mentors called Friends are full-time salaried professionals who are matched with kindergarteners who face multiple systemic obstacles. Friends maintain relationships with the children through high school graduation, no matter what.
"We do a reverse draft," said Campbell. "We go in and ask for the most-challenged kids in the school. We don't say give us your best kid with the most promise. We say, 'Give us the kid that is giving you the most trouble, and you think will drop out, get into the justice system or be an early parent.'"
Friends provide educational and emotional support, and form meaningful, long-term relationships with these youth – deep bonds that last for many years. Numerous Friends have been with the organization for more than 20 years, and the average Friend retention rate is seven years.
A recent independent study provides proof of the model's positive impact. Every dollar invested in Friends of the Children returns more than $7 of benefit to the community. That represents a return of nearly $900,000 over the lifetime of each child in the program.
Friends of the Children mentees compared to similar youth:
Campbell hopes his biography will help bring greater awareness of the organization and understanding of the power of long-term relationships with caring adult role models for youth who face multiple systemic obstacles. His goal is that Friend of the Children will grow to impact thousands of more children across the country. All book sales proceeds will directly benefit Friends of the Children.