Foundation for Second Chances (FFSC) is a nonprofit organization founded in 2004 to make sure that children are being provided with the basic necessities, such as a quality education, the opportunity to flourish in a safe and nurturing environment, an opportunity to build self-confidence and self-esteem, and the ability to achieve.

“We strive to create an environment of love, compassion, safety, and respect, and also provide charitable contributions, gifts, and funding to individuals in need and to community institutions that work directly to improve the well being of children and families,” said founder Melissa Wyatt.

FFSC is guided by Wyatt and a volunteer board of directors that leads the organization forward and keeps it strongly aligned with its mission on a daily basis.

The foundation has established a number of programs since its inception geared toward furthering its reach and productivity, namely its mentoring program. Established in 2005, Foundation for Second Chances Mentoring (FFSCM) builds long-lasting, caring relationships between youth and mentors, fostering each youth’s growth and potential. The vision of FFSCM is to provide successful mentoring relationships for children with incarcerated parents, contributing to brighter futures and stronger communities.

According to the organizations research, of more than 2 million children of prisoners in the United States, there are 292,000 residing in California; more than one-third of these children will reach the age of 18 while a parent is incarcerated.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, children with an incarcerated parent are at higher risk of lowered self-esteem related to the stigma of incarceration, poor school performance and truancy, alcohol and drug abuse, delinquency, adolescent and adulthood involvement in the criminal justice system.

“As these youth are often taken away from their families and placed in unfamiliar homes, schools, and communities, they develop a sense of instability that can affect them their entire lives. This makes it less likely that they will develop meaningful life connections, and more likely that they will become delinquent in their adolescent years. Although such circumstances seem dire, outside support and a sense of hope can help protect these youth from failing. Having a mentor–a consistent and positive friend–can be just that,” said Wyatt.

The FFSC volunteer mentor team is comprised of adults from all different backgrounds, professions, and experiences who host group events throughout the year to help positively impact the lives of these youngsters.

On Oct. 22 the Foundation will host the Second Chances Youth Summit at the University of Southern California (USC) to help 9th-12th grade Los Angeles youth to develop a sense of community, and create a space for them to actively plan and have agency in determining their futures.

“During the summit we hope to provide attendees with workshop sessions that explore issues that directly affect them–a college/career fair, health/nutrition/fitness education, and discussions that are geared towards civic and service engagement. By giving 9th-12th grade youth a safe space to dialogue and feel supported, we hope that youth have the opportunity to gather all the information they need to prepare themselves for life,” said Wyatt.

The Foundation is always looking for more volunteers to help with the organization’s after-school programs, community service projects, tutors, as well as individuals interested in making donations to the program. For more information on the Foundation for Second Chances and to find out how you can help, visit the website at www.ffscinc.org.