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April 15, 2013
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Know Your Nonprofit: The Friendship Club


What is your mission?

To engage, educate and empower girls at risk in Nevada County.

The Friendship Club is a prevention program designed to reach girls before they engage in unhealthy behaviors. We teach the girls life skills, personal responsibility and the value of hard work through a year-round program of educational activities, emotional support and community involvement. We focus on establishing trust, safety and hope, and help the girls build confidence, gain and show respect and empower them to be the best they can be.

What is your budget, and how many employees do you have?

The Friendship Club primarily consists of more than 200 volunteers with support from six full-time paid employees.

The annual budget is $570,000.

Most of our income comes from local individuals and businesses and private foundations.

What is your nonprofit’s history?

Founded in 1995, the idea for The Friendship Club came from Mary Collier, the director of the PAL program in the Nevada City School District. She noticed that the teenage girls who had become too old to be eligible for the program continued to ask for guidance and support. In answer to those needs, she founded The Friendship Club along with Amanda Chavez and current executive director Jennifer Singer as a week-long summer program with 15 girls. Currently, we serve between 75 and 100 girls annually.

Who is your primary audience?

Girls at risk in grade six through 12.

Anyone, regardless of age and gender, who is passionate about strengthening our community by improving the quality of life for every child, will connect with the mission and has a place in the program, whether it’s as a donor or a volunteer.

List your biggest achievements.

“The Friendship Club gave me hope when I was hopeless” – Michelle Schmidt, graduate

Developing the after-school program, which is the cornerstone of The Friendship Club. Our girls gather weekly with a staff and volunteers who provide steady emotional support and engage the girls in themed lessons and supervised homework sessions.

Exposing hundreds of girls through the years to a wide variety of educational experiences has allowed them to succeed in school and beyond.

Expanding the summer program has brought a host of new opportunities and exciting activities that keep our girls active, engaged and productive. Activities include a summer camp for each age group, a weekly reading club, sports and art clinics and valuable community service.

Providing scholarships for more than 25 girls attending college.

What is your No. 1 short-term goal?

Increasing our volunteer base. We have various volunteer opportunities ranging from once in a while, once a week, as well as working more regularly with a girl in a one-on-one relationship. Volunteer support allows us to stretch our dollars and offer more for the girls.

What is your No. 1 long-term goal?

Formalizing our program and creating a model program that can be shared with other rural communities facing similar challenges with young girls in need of additional support in their lives.

What is your major fundraiser and date?

On April 23, the Nevada City Film Festival and The Friendship Club will bring a global movement to educate girls and change the world home to Nevada County with a screening of the anticipated film “Girl Rising” at the Nevada Theatre. Following the film, there will be a panel discussion with students, educators and members of the media. This one-night only event is a must-see for families, educators, students, civic leaders, community organizers and more. Tickets for general admission are $10 in advance, $15 at the door and $5 for those aged 21 and younger.

The Friendship 100 coming Sept. 23 is our major annual fundraiser and has plenty of fun ways for the community to be involved. We take over the 49er Fun Park, and you can race a race car, golf on a mini-golf team or sponsor the event.

The Friendship Club is a member of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership, which provides the weekly Know Your Nonprofit feature. You can learn more about The Center for Nonprofit Leadership online at www.CNLSierra.org. The Center is on Facebook www.facebook.com/NevadaCountyNonProfitLeadership and Twitter @NevCoNonprofits.


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The Union Updated Apr 24, 2013 04:27PM Published Apr 15, 2013 07:56PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.