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Central Oregon

Les Schwab’s granddaughter gives $6 million donation to Friends of the Children

'My hope is that this gift will honor my grandfather’s legacy for many years to come.'

BELLEVUE, Wash. (KTVZ) -- The national organization Friends of the Children announced Monday that they received a two-year, $6 million matching gift from Bellevue, Wash.-based philanthropist and Echo Fund founder Diana Tomseth, the granddaughter of the late Les Schwab, who built the independent business empire Les Schwab Tire Centers.

“This extraordinary generosity comes at a watershed moment for children and families across the country,” said Terri Sorensen, CEO of Friends of the Children. “Children and families need more support than ever before to recover from the pandemic. This gift will allow us to create the Friends of the Children Social Impact Fund to support the expansion of partnerships with additional rural and tribal communities and will support capacity at Friends of the Children – National to implement this exciting work. We are incredibly grateful to Diana for letting us think big and identify ways the organization could benefit from such a substantial gift.”

Friends of the Children pairs children facing the greatest obstacles with paid, professional mentors who stay by each child’s side from as early as age 4 through high school graduation — 12+ years, no matter what.

Tomseth had followed Friends of the Children’s work for many years, making other gifts in the past. She has also seen first-hand how rural identities are often defined — and limited by — their economic struggles.

Her philanthropy focuses on improving outcomes for children and families impacted by foster care, substance use disorders and the criminal justice system. Tomseth shared that Friends of the Children’s mission, values and programmatic work aligned with her philanthropic goals, which led to this investment.

“This gift is how I am honoring my grandfather’s love and commitment to the people and company he cared about so deeply,” Tomseth said. “He attributed his own success to empowering those around him and providing opportunities for them to succeed. He had very little means growing up and was fiercely committed to building impactful programs that have a larger vision and purpose, similar to Friends of the Children’s founder Duncan Campbell. My hope is that this gift will honor my grandfather’s legacy for many years to come.”

The establishment of the Friends of the Children Social Impact Fund is a powerful approach to transforming lives and partnering with more communities across the country, positioning the Echo Fund to be a catalyst for impact – mobilizing private resources to find and grow community solutions with evidence of results. Friends of the Children must match the funds dollar-for-dollar at the national level and in the local community.

Through private philanthropy that has led to catalytic public investments, Friends of the Children has expanded from seven to 22 locations in the U.S. and U.K. in the past seven years, including Friends of the Children Central Oregon, a 21 Cares for Kids partner.

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