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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Family Counseling, Leadership Development, Youth Community Service Clubs

Mission: Dads Make a Difference (DMAD) addresses two issues that significantly impact the financial stability and self-reliance of families – absent fathers and too-early parenting. The value of healthy fatherhood is increasingly evident, with research, public policy, and communities all acknowledging the need for children to experience positive relationships with both men and women. Healthy fatherhood complements and supports healthy motherhood. Children benefit from the wealth of each parent's life experiences, different styles, and approaches to dealing with life. Yet looking at male socialization, we often see a scarcity of healthy adult male role models for boys and a lack of education about what it means to grow up to become a positive man and father. In many ways, our culture fails to provide boys and men sufficient direction and support in order for them to define and adopt healthy expressions of masculinity and fatherhood. Prior to becoming dads, young men often do not give a great deal of thought or attention to whether they would like to have children, how many, and what they want their families to look like. As a result, they don’t engage in conversations about family formation and planning. Young men need the ability to be partners in conversations about pregnancy prevention and family planning, an important aspect of their development and important to their long-term success.

Results: DMAD builds life skills so youth are prepared to think critically about healthy relationships, becoming sexually active, and the consequences of parenting too soon. Too-early parenting and absent fathers are identified risk factors for poverty. Youth are educated about the emotional, physical, and financial responsibilities of having children. Educated youth are more likely to make mature decisions about relationships, take personal responsibility for life choices including their readiness to parent, and understand how children benefit from father involvement and co-parenting. As DMAD youth transition to adulthood, their communities are strengthened because they are better equipped to make intentional choices about creating families. DMAD works at the most basic level to empower youth to be self-sufficient and reach their full potential by engaging teens in leadership roles and as the messengers to younger youth. DMAD works diligently on its outreach to youth of color as they are affected disproportionately by too-early pregnancy and by poverty. Having the important conversation about when to have a child and who to have that child with is not easy. DMAD was developed to help young people consider the very important decision about when to become a parent, to include young men in the conversation, and to help young women recognize the importance of a father to their future child. From October 1994 through April 2016, DMAD trained 3,095 teen peer educators from 170 schools and community agencies across the state. These teens in turn taught the curriculum to about 79,000 middle school-age youth in urban, suburban, and rural settings.

Target demographics: We train high school-age teens, boys and girls, to be peer educators of middle school-age youth using the DMAD curriculum in schools, community agencies, and faith-based groups.

Direct beneficiaries per year: About 500 youth

Geographic areas served: Minnesota statewide, about 70% metro and 30% greater MN. We have also done some national replication and have an international presence as well.

Programs: DMAD peer education promoting the positive involvement of fathers and educating youth about responsible parenting.

Community Stories

23 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Dads Make a Difference training for my Future Educators has been a great compliment to our program at Como Park Senior High School. It contains valuable lessons for our student/trainers, and for the young people they will go out to teach it to.

Previous Stories

Advisor

Rating: 4

My Future Educators have received valuable training through the Dads Make a Difference program. They have gone out to junior high schools in the area, and have been able to prove their leadership skills.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering for Dads Make A Difference for about 6 years now, and LOVE the program. I myself was a high schooler who attended my DMAD training and absolutely loved going into my local middle schools and teaching the curriculum. So much so that I reached out to Jan about becoming an adult trainer once I began college. She graciously accepted my offer, and I have greatly enjoyed working with Jan and the other trainers ever since. Jan is kind, courteous, and has a deep passion for this cause that is near and dear to her heart. It is my belief that learning the responsibilities of parenting is a key element to a person's overall success and is important to learn at an early age. Not only do children obtain a deeper level of respect for what their parents do for them, but they also begin to develop values that they will carry with them throughout life and into parenting years of their own. The curriculum is diverse, fun, and most importantly; open to all ideas, opinions, and personal stories. I know I do not only speak for myself when I say that Dads Make A Difference is a learning experience that one carries in their heart for a lifetime.

Shirley15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Dads Make a Difference meets a definite need and utilizes a proven curriculum model based on research for training and outreach. Past participants become some of the staff when training is done again. A great, proven model that makes a difference in the lives of young Dads and ultimately, their child/ren.

miarx003

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DMAD has been a part of my journey from teenhood to adulthood. I first met the founder of Dads, Jan Hayne, six years ago. I could immediately sense her passion as she told her story, and shared the mission of this amazing non-profit. The curriculum is timeless and yet fresh, traditional and yet innovative, and consistent year after year in core values, life lessons, and practical applications. It is a privilege to work with such amazing people who share Jan's mission of responsible parenting and the importance of relationship building. Students learn it, love it, and share it with their peers, family and friends, and in the digital world we live in, the positive energy Jan brings to her students is shared across the nation.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Being involved in Dads has been an extremely rewarding experience. I attended training as a high school student, and knew right then that I wanted to stay involved in this program. It is obvious that Jan has a deep passion for the organization and so do her volunteers. I hope to stay involved in DMAD for a very long time. Great program, great people, great cause!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Dads Make a Difference is a program that changes lives. This curriculum not only helps young people make healthy decisions to plan for their futures but it also builds leadership skills and protective factors for young people who are struggling or facing challenges in their own lives. It creates a ripple effect that touches so many people and continues to impact young people in middle school, high school and beyond. It helps create a fuller picture of parenthood particularly for children born to young and/or single parents. It helps build community among trainers, peer educators, their students and staff that weaves a thread of hope and resilience for all young people.

1 Kellen M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

DMAD brings much needed content and learning to today's youth. No other nonprofit serves such a diverse group of teens. Without this program, many of our younger adults would be in a much different place personally, professionally and mentally.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Since 1991, I have worked as a clinical social worker in the Twin Cities, and among many other things, have coordinated programs that serve young and older fathers in the lives of children. I began work with DMAD in 1993 as a curriculum trainer because I was amazed to see such a progressive and creative approach to serving our youth. Since my first training with the DMAD family, I have been deeply moved by the power of this curriculum, and touched by the warm and personable staff that gather (like groupies to the band they love). My eldest son, NIcco was very soon to be born in Early February of 2001. We had a DMAD training, and I clearly remember, standing on a stage (post training) in St. Paul, waiting for our DMAD team picture to be taken. I had my cell phone on... waiting for a call from my then-wife to say something like: "get your butt home, our baby is on his way!" The DMAD non-profit is rare, dignified, and extremely progressive. Our world needs more dedicated and creative efforts put forth toward the underserved youth and family members in our world. Healthy male involvement is a hall mark of an evolved society. I heartily salute the Dad's Make A Difference program and all those who have the brilliant conviction and audacious courage to stand with it!

- Jeffry Jeanetta-Wark, MA. LICSW
Lead clinician and owner of the Center for Integrated Well-Being, Inc.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My experience with this program has influenced many life changing events for me. It helped my gain confidence in my teenage years, learn leadership skills and it influenced choices I made. After being a teen trainer teaching middle school students that's what I decided to do for a career. Most importantly it helped me choose an amazing dad for my two children.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Want to work with a program with a mission purely to serve youth; utlitizing a youth teaching youth model? You are at the write place. Dads Make a Difference was a seed in the early 90s but it was rooted itself in the hearts and minds of those lucky to have participated in the program. It's research-based, interactive, and asks youth to plan for their future. Absolutely fabulous.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Although I am no longer an active teacher in this program, the experience still resonates in the daily work I experience with my students. Dads Make a Difference re-framed the way in which I listen to my students' stories. It also provided a foundation in viewing how peer-to-peer training is a most effective model in reaching adolescents. And, the message of Dads Make a Difference is universal -- the positive role of fathers in children's lives benefits all children.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

WOW, this is awesome! I started with DMAD as one of the 1st teen trainees in April of 1994 then became a teen and adult trainer shortly after I trained my first few lessons. I can truely say that this program helped affirm and direct my life not only personaly but professionaly as well. Being married and a father of two wonderfull boys I can look back at the lesson that I learned from DMAD that help shape the husband and father that I wanted to be. (you have to ask them how I'm doing LOL) I am now the Director of Recruiting and Training for a large national company where I utilize some of the same teaching techniques I've learned over the years by being a trainer with DMAD. I can't believe it's been almost 20 years! Through this program I havr been able to work with exceptional people and have some of the most memorable experiences. Road trips with Gary and Jan, snoring...I mean dancing competitions with "D", training with Angie in Boston...(Lois hit me up some time LOL). I even had the pleasure of playing piano and accompany a world class thespian, Mr. T Michael Rambo with Vant on the harmonica! And with that I must end this review with a quote from the DMAD Theme Song: "You got to be there, DADS make a difference, show somebody you care!"