What we do.

Jon Francis Foundation (JFF) shares with other individuals and families the hard-earned knowledge and difficult lessons we learned.

  • JFF acts as a resource to families who are distraught and overwhelmed while dealing with the disappearance of a loved one. At a time when families need to be "at peak performance" they are disabled with grief and sidelined by a lack of knowledge.
  • JFF acts as a logistical and emotional resource to families of loved ones who are missing and aid in the transition from an official search to a private search if necessary.
  • JFF provides educational materials and hands-on training to increase the knowledge, preparation and safety of wilderness campers, climbers, hikers and hunters.
  • JFF provides families with information they need to partner with law enforcement, links to available search and rescue resources, and knowledge about best practices to assist them in their search.

Jon Francis Foundation advocates for state and federal standards, best practices, and equitable funding for missing persons' investigations, search, rescue and recovery.

Our Vision

We are guided by the belief that no human being should ever be abandoned in the wilderness.

What's the Problem?

When it comes to finding missing and lost persons, the public sector often lets us down. People go missing more frequently than most people realize and law enforcement is often not effective in finding lost people. According to an FBI audit report, in 2006, the year Jon went missing, there were eight hundred unsolved missing persons' cases in Minnesota, and two hundred unsolved, unidentified remains cases.

Our flawed official search and rescue process causes deep pain and suffering to the loved ones of those missing people. The survivors are victims of unresolved loss. When law enforcement stops their search without finding the lost person, the family is plunged into deep despair with feelings of abandonment, helplessness, and hopelessness. Not knowing what happened, and not being able to lay your loved one to rest--piles grief upon grief.

Why is the responsibility for search and rescue carried by local sheriffs who are often inadequately prepared, trained, equipped, and funded?

Worst of all (perhaps due to ignorance of the problem), U.S. citizens tolerate grossinequity and unfairness in standards of conduct and funding. For example; the New York Times reported that the State of Nevada spent over six hundred thousand dollars in their months-long search for millionaire Steve Fossett. Based on our search cost experience, Custer County, Idaho spent about ten thousand dollars and twenty-nine hours searching for Jon Francis.

Why isn't Search and Rescue (SAR) a state and national priority with standards of performance, sufficient money, and equitable funding and resources?

Working for Solutions:

Our vision is to address deficiencies in SAR capabilities, preparedness and the lack of equitable funding through support of families, law enforcement, research, and raising public awareness. This approach will be similar to the efforts of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, which worked diligently to create the Amber Alert System; and John Walsh, father of Adam Walsh, who labored long and hard to convince the U.S. Department of Justice to create the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The Jon Francis Resource Center

We met with Jerry and Patty Wetterling, founders of the Jacob Wetterling Foundation, to thank them for their help and to seek their advice on creation of the Jon Francis Foundation. Jerry asked me, "What would you do if you had a million dollars?" "Establish the Jon Francis Resource Center," I responded.

That remains our long range vision--to establish the Jon Francis Resource Center where we will educate law enforcement and search and rescue professionals on search best practices and train people who go out into the backcountry to go out more safely and better prepared. The Center could play an important role in training law enforcement officials in search and rescue best practices. This would lessen the pain of unresolved loss by solving more missing person's cases.