In honor of Mother’s Day, Philanthropy Roundtable sat down with the founder and CEO of Every Mother’s Advocate, Charlotte (Charlee) Tchividjian, to hear more about her organization’s vital work and its impact in communities around the country. Every Mother’s Advocate empowers and supports mothers in crisis by giving them the resources they need to keep their family together.
Q. Please share about your background and what inspired your involvement in serving women and their families?
After three years of fostering, which led to the adoption of our son, my paradigm shifted after witnessing the systemic challenges and brokenness mothers face once their families become entangled in the child welfare system. I knew as a foster parent my heart would break for the children in my care, but I never imagined it would break for so much more. The truth was unavoidable, behind every child at risk there was a forgotten mother in crisis. My experiences as a foster and adoptive mom led me to discover that unmet basic needs was the leading cause for children entering into foster care. This indicated that the majority of family separations across the country are directly linked to poverty, and are completely preventable. Inspired to fight against the false narrative that poor mothers are unfit to raise their children, launching a mother advocacy movement to prevent family separation by advocating for mothers in crisis was the essential next step in being a part of the solution.
Q. As founder and CEO of Every Mother’s Advocate, you are working tirelessly toward meeting the unique and individual needs of women and men. How is your commitment to serving women manifested and demonstrated through the work of Every Mother’s Advocate?
Across the U.S., 76% of children in our foster care system were removed from their homes due to preventable causes like unmet basic needs. Every Mother’s Advocate (ĒMA) is motivated by this big idea that together we can eradicate the unnecessary breakdown of families by simply advocating for mothers in crisis. We envision a world where mothers are no longer separated from their children due to preventable causes, but are equipped and empowered to raise their children in stable and nurturing homes. We serve mothers at risk of family separation with one-on-one advocacy and holistic support, empowering moms to move from crisis to stability. At Every Mother’s Advocate, 96% of families stay together when the mother has an advocate. This outcome is our reminder to never underestimate the impact one meaningful relationship can have on a family in crisis.
Q. Can you share about how you partner with other organizations to meet the unique needs of individual women and men?
Since we set out with our mission in 2019, EMA has reached over 3,000 mothers and children in crisis. Last year, we expanded our work both locally and nationally through affiliate partnerships. Affiliate partnerships allow us to scale EMA as a “plug-and-play” program. We train and equip values-aligned, existing organizations to operate their own EMA program and effectively advocate for at-risk mothers in their local communities to preserve their families. We have seen how providing the structure, content and support of a proven model for mother advocacy fills a unique gap for frontline organizations who are serving families in crisis. It is our goal to continue strengthening our national network of partners, churches and volunteer advocates. It is one of our greatest joys to facilitate the strategic collaboration of like-minded nonprofits coming together to strengthen our impact and serve more mothers than any one organization could possibly do alone.
Q. You and your team of staff and volunteers engage with women and their families each day. Can you help us get a glimpse into a story that represents a person Every Mother’s Advocate has recently served? What brought them to EMA and how did you help?
Meet Maria, a single mom facing a lot of challenges when she entered the program, including substance use, previous involvement with child welfare, unstable housing and a part-time job. But with the help of her EMA advocate, she showed up consistently and worked hard toward her goals. By the time Maria completed the EMA program, she was able to move into a two-bedroom townhome with her daughter and even started a new job that increased her income. She experienced a community that rallied around her and received notes of encouragement and a gift basket from a bakery that included free bread for her family for one year. She expressed how grateful she was for the program and that she didn’t know what to expect when she first showed up, but her EMA advocate made her feel like she could accomplish anything she set her mind on.
Q. As you look ahead to the next one to three years, what are you hoping for the organization and the communities you serve?
At Every Mother’s Advocate, we are committed to preventing family separation by advocating for mothers in crisis – and we are not pursuing this mission alone. In this next chapter of our work, our goal is to build the most collaborative and effective mother-centric prevention program in the country. This is only possible through the collective impact of local organizations, churches, advocates and financial partners working together to end the family separation crisis by empowering mothers to raise their children in a stable and nurturing home.
It is our missional goal by 2026 to:
- Scale our model into 30 new cities and empower communities to prevent family separation and effectively advocate for mothers in crisis
- Empower 3,000 mothers in crisis to achieve stability, and
- Prevent 7,500 children from entering into foster care.
Q. How does philanthropy and generosity help make your programs possible?
Over the years, we have had the honor of serving countless mothers and families in crisis. We have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of advocacy and the difference it can make in the lives of vulnerable families. However, the reality is this work requires dedication, persistence and a deep commitment to our mission. That is why we are deeply grateful for the generous support of our partners. Because of the generosity of many individuals who have come alongside our mission, we have experienced organizational transformation and seized opportunities for expansive growth. We were able to expand our reach and impact by scaling up existing programs and launching new initiatives. Our partners bring valuable expertise and resources to our team, and skills to help us improve the quality and effectiveness of our work. Our visionary investors who believe in and support our model have allowed us to stay focused on what matters most: ending the family separation crisis.
Q. Philanthropists and generous Americans from around the country will be reading this interview. How would you advise a donor who is interested in supporting women and their families – what should they be considering in their giving toward women and families?
As we look back, we are so proud of the lasting impact we have made so far, but recognize there is still much work to be done. Thousands of mothers and families in crisis remain, and too many children are being removed from their families and placed into foster care for reasons that could be prevented. Your philanthropic investments are critical in building catalytic momentum for the next decade. Consider being part of the most critical capital and community of visionary partners, informing the trajectory and quality of our impact for mothers and children. We believe that we will see the day when there are no longer more than 400,000 children in foster care waiting for a home or families unnecessarily experiencing the trauma of separation. Our ambition and motivation is fueled by our belief that the family separation crisis is solvable in our lifetime, and hope to invite you into that story.
Learn more about Every Mother’s Advocate here.