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A new organization aims to fight child poverty in Utah

Posted at 7:00 PM, Aug 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-31 21:00:34-04

A new organization has launched in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, to help children and their caregivers break the cycle of inter-generational poverty.

The group called Friends of the Children Utah, backed in part by Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah has launched with tremendous support here in the state.

Sandy Pershing, Executive Director for Friends of the Children Utah says the Utah group launched in March, but they are part of a 27 year legacy with one goal - "To break the cycle of inter-generational poverty and help young people achieve the dreams that they deserve."

Already operating in Salt Lake, with friends helping stuff backpacks for kids going back to school, Pershing says they hope to expand across the state soon - offering long-term for mentorship for youth and their caregivers.

"We work with them to set goals, to reach those goals, to build life skills, and advocate for their needs," Pershing said.

And right now, due to what Pershing is calling the "digital divide," they are doing a lot of that virtually.

Pershing says socioeconomic barriers such as access to computers or Internet are preventing many students from getting the education and help they need.

Friends of the Children Utah is providing computers and other forms of technology to try to bridge that gap for those in their program - one they say has a proven track record.

"83 percent of those who participate in our program graduate from high school or get their GED, and 93 percent avoid the juvenile justice system. Those are really incredible statistics, over 27 years of incredible research and I’m excited to have that impact here in Utah," Pershing said.

Friends of the Children Utah says there is a place in their organization for you. If you'd like to find out more about how you can help, visit friendsutah.org.