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Tampa Bay's History

How It All Started in Tampa Bay


Friends of the Children—Tampa Bay is part of the national organization Friends of the Children, which is headquartered in Portland, Ore. and celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018. Friends of the Children is currently in 20 locations across the country—including Tampa Bay—and in the United Kingdom, and will be expanding to 25 cities by 2025.

Friends of the Children—Tampa Bay initially started as a program through a partner organization in 2014 and began selecting children in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.

In 2018, Friends of the Children made the strategic decision to launch a stand-alone chapter to allow the organization to operate independently and increase the number of children served in the Tampa Bay area.

Friends of the Children—Tampa Bay serves youth facing the highest risks by pairing them with a salaried, professional mentor—called a Friend—from kindergarten through high school graduation. The organization employs 7 Friends and looks forward to growing the chapter as part of a national network that is rapidly expanding.

We look forward to sharing the mission and vision of Friends with you, and helping so many incredible young children break the cycle of poverty.


Nita Smith, Executive Director, Friends of the Children—Tampa Bay