Duncan Campbell was once one of the kids he now tries to help. He grew up in a rough neighborhood in northeast Portland, Ore., with an alcoholic mother and a father who was in and out of jail for writing bad checks.

In 1993, Campbell returned to his old neighborhood with $1.5 million of his own money to start Friends of the Children, a nonprofit that pairs professional mentors with at-risk kids from kindergarten through high school. Today, there are eight Friends chapters across the country.

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