About Forge



Times have changed and our society is facing a crisis. Young people used to rub shoulders with adults daily, and through that, gained the insight and guidance needed to grow into a healthy young adult.


Up close with positive role-models, kids learned appropriate attitudes, received meaningful encouragement and feedback, and witnessed quality examples.


Over the past decades kids have become increasingly separated from adults, in both natural and programmatic settings. Consider how these have played a role in that reality:

  • Growing mobility
  • Continued high divorce rates
  • Fatherlessness and 40% of births nationally to unwed mothers
  • Increased use of social media and online presence
  • Lack of multi-generational settings + splitting up young and old for most learning opportunities
  • Media’s portrayal of youth rejecting adult presence and guidance

This separation is hurting us all. Young are missing the experience and wisdom of the old. The older are missing the energy and passion found in the young. We’re all losing the joy and learning found in walking alongside someone different than us.


Further, studies show that the age of adolescents is rising, with some researchers saying that it is lasting until their 30’s. We need to look at it this way – when young people don’t “rub shoulders” with adults, they simply are not learning how to become an adult.

It’s a crisis, and we need to address it. FORGE is doing all it can through intentional mentoring and educating communities on the power natural mentoring.

To better our communities and our country, we must reconnect the generations.

``IN LARGE MEASURE, what's causing this crisis of American childhood is a lack of connectedness. We mean two kinds of connectedness — close connections to other people, and deep connections to moral and spiritual meaning.`` — Hardwired to Connect, The Commission of Children at Risk

FORGE is leading the way as they Connect generations to restore hope in our communities and help young people find their God-given potential by:

  • Helping communities understand of the need for and benefit of cross-generational engagement
  • Recruiting, training, and matching great mentors with kids who lack positive adult role-models
  • Inspiring and equipping the adult population to effectively reach out to younger generations
  • Teaching young and old how to show empathy and effectively form positive and lasting bonds
  • Collaborating with city, schools, and youth serving agencies to provide support to young people and their families
  • Inspiring and equipping churches to better understand their community’s needs and increase their involvement to include natural and intentional mentoring


FORGE was created to most efficiently and effectively impact lives.  We believe simple is good, volunteers make the greatest difference, and that we’re wired for relationships.

Our chapter strategy delivers on that by providing services to both large and small communities for 1/3 the cost of other mentoring programs.  Additionally, our National Office provides services to our Chapter Directors that allows them to spend their time simply growing the number of mentor matches.  Services include: 

  • Website and social media hosting 
  • Graphic design, tools, and templates
  • Promotional materials/media development
  • Participant training courses and resources
  • Grant writing and support with local fundraising
  • Staff training course and continuing education
  • Providing background checks and mentor match materials 
  • Bookkeeping & tax filing


Would you like to see FORGE helping the kids in your community?  Well, we’d love to be there!  Our desire is to expand throughout our nation, going where God leads.  You can help by making us aware of the need in your city and by starting to talk with your friends, church, and employer to begin gathering some interested individuals.  Visit our START A CHAPTER page (link to that web page) and contact our National Executive Director, Todd Kleppin, at (509) 438-1918 or todd@forgeyouthmentoring.org to receive help and resources to get the ball rolling.  We’ll take it from there! 

Research shows that young people are curious about spiritual things and need a source to establish their moral compass. Experts recognize that churches are the greatest source of “social capital” and can greatly help kids discover broader horizons. We believe the Christian church plays a powerful and significant role in building communities. Not through proselytizing, but by loving, supporting, and role-modeling. We know those who live by faith; dedicating themselves to spiritual statutes and striving to godlier; help improve themselves and those around them. Their commitment to grow causes them to serve through; empathy, love, service, and sharing with all people – living out an expression of these Bible verses:

“Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:27 NLT

“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…” Psalm 68:5-6a

Forge is leading this movement of Connecting generations to restore hope in our communities and help young people find their God-given potential, by:



Todd Kleppin, Co-founder/National Executive Director
Todd is passionate about helping people discover their potential and experience life to the fullest.  That’s why he’s dedicated his life to growing youth mentoring.  He’s spent over 30 years in youth development, with the last 14 focused on growing mentoring around the northwest and beyond.  Todd is married to his high school sweetheart, Wendy, and has three adult children; Pearl, Hank, and Albert.


Matt Nash, Fund Development Director
Matt has lived his whole life in the Tri-Cities, Washington and has always worked to better the people all around him.  He’s spent many years in the corrections field, later moving into fund development to make an even greater impact on his community.  While much of his life has been spent in a wheelchair, Matt has never let that slow him down in building partnerships with people and businesses to accomplish great things for the region.  He has served on many local non-profit boards, in addition to being a member of Washington State _____ board.    


Simon Hart, Storytelling Director
Simon is a high school student that is already demonstrating incredible leadership abilities in his school, church, and with FORGE as a volunteer and previous board member.  He cares deeply for people and plans is complete a degree in Business and Non-Profit development to better communities.  Simon is gifted in writing and helping people tell their story and we excited to have him on the team!  Simon will be attending Lewis and Clark University in Lewiston, ID in 2022.


Leann Norberg, Administrative Assistant
Leann has given her life growing in her faith, serving others, and working in organizations that made a difference in people’s lives.  Before heading into retirement, she chose to join FORGE, to help us and the impact the community.  Little did she know what she was signing up for when she came on staff in 2019, but thanks to her experience and organizational skills, she helped the program grow quickly from infancy to an organization on the verge of mass expansion.  She is married to husband Steve and has __ adult children.  


Armando Ramirez, Mid-Columbia Basin Chapter Executive Director
Armando experienced a very difficult childhood, but thanks to two mentors coming into his life, he began to realize that he was worthy of love and that he could achieve great things.  Through the years he has used those experiences and lessons, as well as his leadership and translation skills, to help many people.  Armando began volunteering for FORGE in 2019 and joined our staff a year later.  His strengths and passion have helped develop every aspect of the program, including recruitment, mentor and volunteer training, and connection to Spanish speaking populations.      


Kimberly Gunvaldson, Mid-Columbia Basin Yakima Area Director
Kimberly grew up in Yakima and recently returned home to spend time helping her parents and take on the next phase of life.  After working in a variety of fields, and experiencing many difficulties in life, she wanted her next job to be meaningful.  Kimberly brings skills in communications, recruitment, and training development to FORGE and will help us expand throughout the Yakima Valley region as well as grow our Experience Partners program.     





Joseph Franell, Board President
Joseph Franell is the President of Blue Mountain Networks, a rural competitive Internet service provider and telephone company which includes Axxis Communications, Eastern Oregon Telecom, and Gorge Networks.  Blue Mountain Networks (BMN) serves residents, businesses, and the community of faith in more than 30 communities throughout Northeastern Oregon, Southeastern Washington, and the Mid-Columbia River region of the Pacific Northwest.  The Oregon Business Magazine called Joe, “The Rural Connector” because of his effective leadership in bringing broadband to rural markets in the region.

Joe has had a passion for mentoring youth for over 40 years.  While in college, he worked with hundreds of inner-city boys in Fort Worth, Texas, helping them to find a future that didn’t include the gangs.   He has continued to impact young people with one-on-one mentoring; by showing God’s love and helping each young person to realize their immeasurable worth.  

Franell is a ten-year veteran of the US Army, is happily married, and has one daughter.



Brian Vaughan, Co-Founder and Secretary-Treasurer
Brian Vaughan, CPA CSEP is a partner at the Certified Public Accounting firm of Hanson Vaughan, LLC. He has been working in the field of public accounting since 1991.  He quickly moved up to form his own accounting firm, of which he is a partner today.  His practice expanded to two sites in the Portland/Salem, Oregon, due to his hard work, understanding of people, and firm grasp of powerful business strategies.  He spends a great deal of time mentoring businesses, new and old, helping them become more effective and efficient.


Brian has volunteered and served with numerous non-profits including; Transitional Youth, the Navigators, CRU’s Priority Associates ministry, and local church youth ministries.  In his spare time he enjoys golfing, mountain biking, kayaking, working around the house, and spending time with his wife, Annette.


“Nothing has had an impact on my life equivalent to the deeper relationships I have been fortunate to be a part of.  Forge Youth Mentoring gave me an avenue to help make possible those same deep relationships for youth at a critical time in their lives.  That is why I chose to invest my time and resources into Forge Youth Mentoring.


Dave Allen, Member
Operations & Policy Senior Analyst (Retired)

Bend, OR


Mark Murphy, MemberManager and Senior Research Scientist, Pacific Northwest Laboratory 

Executive Director, Mid-Columbia Parenting

Richland, WA




FORGE  Youth Mentoring is a Christian organization fully committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our faith cherishes the sacred dignity of every human being and celebrates diversity as a true representation of God’s love and creative expression.

We seek to build a diverse community of participants, volunteers, and staff that fully engages the transformative experience found in mentoring across expressions of human difference. This is based on the following strong convictions:


Following the Savior and modeling the Word of God


Partnering to mobilize and equip believers for mutual growth

Volunteer Empowerment

Investing in unpaid workers for key tasks to economize programming.

Equip and Support

Quality training and ongoing encouragement for staff and volunteers.

Safety & Transparency

Protecting all participants and partners with clear guidelines and communication.

Strategic Excellence

Balancing a ministry heart and business mind to achieve our calling and potential.

Reconnect Generations

Partnering diverse ages to develop greater understanding, respect, and love.

Everyone Has a Story

Empathy leads to tangible help and a desire to learn from others brings wisdom

Growth & Transformation

Through mentor relationships, kids and adults will make lasting positive change.



We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.

We believe that there is one God, the Creator, eternally existent in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, that all who by faith receive the Lord Jesus Christ are born again of the Holy Spirit and thereby become children of God.

We believe in the spiritual unity of believers in our Lord Jesus Christ, with equality across racial, gender, and class differences

In the bodily resurrection of the just and unjust, the everlasting blessedness of the saved, and the everlasting punishment of the lost.

That the Holy Spirit indwells and gives spiritual life to all believers, enables them to understand biblical truth, empowers them for godly living, and equips them for service and witness.

We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, in His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and in His personal return in power and glory.