Fathers: Levers for Change

Fathers: Levers for Change

On Father’s Day 2011, President Obama pulled out all the stops. To highlight the important role fathers play in helping children reach their full potential, the President launched a new website (fatherhood.gov), honored 15 fathers as this week’s Champions of Change, and announced the “Year of Strong Fathers, Strong Families” in his Sunday broadcast, on an interview on ABC, and in an op-ed in People magazine.

President Obama’s vocal support for dads in the United States joins a chorus of social entrepreneurs on a global scale who have identified fathers as a key leverage point in improving outcomes related to poverty, healthcare, incarceration, and education. With the help of donors who give in honor of their dads, Ashoka is supporting many of these growing success stories.

In Poland, Ashoka Fellow Dariusz Cupial is coordinating media campaigns, teaching concrete parenting skills, and building a grassroots movement of empowered young fathers. His model is spreading across Europe. 

In Brazil, where family healthcare services deal almost exclusively with mothers, Ashoka Fellow Jorge Lyra works with hospitals and public schools to empower fathers to be advocates and active participants in family planning, childbirth, and childhood development, building permanent engagement of young fathers in the lives of their children.    

And in the United States, Ashoka Fellow Dallas Wilson encourages business ownership to tackle a host of problems: nonpayment of child support, welfare dependency, crime and community degradation, fragmented families, and lack of opportunity for personal, economic, and social development. Working with incarcerated, noncustodial fathers, Wilson’s strategy helps men integrate back into society — and into fatherhood — by pushing them beyond traditional job training programs. By focusing on business ownership, Wilson helps empower young fathers with earning potential, removing the shame of failing to provide for their families.
As President Obama continues to celebrate Champions of Change within the United States, Ashoka Fellows like these are pragmatically demonstrating how societies around the world can retool services and education models, empowering a generation of fathers to be changemakers in their families and communities.

A special thank you to those donors who gave to Ashoka to honor their father this Father’s Day.