Working with Friends of the Children has been one of the most fulfilling projects we have been able to work on.

Friends Of the Children partners with students hailing from tougher than usual backgrounds starting in Kindergarten and support them until high school graduation, that’s 12.5 years. Friends is amazingly successful in increasing high school graduation rates and reducing the chances their students risk of entering the juvenile justice system and avoiding early parenthood.

It started with our Photographer, Nicole Mitterer. She wanted to find a way to give back to the Portland Community through her art and challenged us to find an organization to partner with. She volunteered to take on the lion’s share of the work if we could find an organization in need of a little support.

When we began our conversation with Friends of the Children we knew it was going to be an amazing opportunity. We proposed our idea in December, we wanted to take individual portraits for each graduating senior of the program to celebrate the incredible accomplishment of graduating high school. Every child should have an image to remember who they are and how far they have come in this important time in their life. To have some token that tells their individual story.

We are elated they welcomed the project.

Believe it or not, organizing a cohort of teenagers can be difficult. We set up multiple photo shoots coordinated around the student’s busy schedules and, with the help of Friends, we were able to capture photos for all of the students that wanted to participate

With permission, some of our favorite photos are below.

Meeting the students was a humbling experience, hearing about their backgrounds, their hurdles, and, most importantly, their successes despite of them is truly inspirational.

We realized this story needed to be shared, for the students, for Friends of the Children, and for the community of Portland, who’s support has helped Friends of the Children thrive for almost 25 years. Public relations, and media relations in particular, is no simple task. For many organizations, sharing their stories through the press can be too difficult or time consuming. Unlike many aspects of marketing, in media relations there generally are not firm commitments and it can be disheartening to invest so much time working on building connections when the results are unknown. Establishing interest in sea of news requires patience and a great deal of networking. So Blackline Collective decided we would take responsibility for sharing this story on Friends of the Children’s behalf.

With special thanks to a gentleman named Bruce Sussman (KATU, Oregonian), who’s tireless efforts helped us pitch the story, we got the attention of the politics editor at the Oregonian. The Oregonian sent a journalist to join the students at the Friends of the Children graduation ceremony to interview students and tell the story of their journey. You can read the full article here.

Whats Next?
Here is where you can get involved, with either in the next steps for these graduating students post high school or with the next generation of students to come. You can follow this link to visit the Friends of the Children donation page. If you notate your donation for the scholarship board, your donation will go to post-secondary education for the graduating students.

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