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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Dads Make A Difference

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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

72 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Board Member

Rating: 5

A fantastic non profit organization that maximizes its resources to deliver exceptional services that benefit so many.

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Dads Make a Difference focuses on a market/community that we need to focus on more critically. Our children need to understand the role of fathers, and their role in their children's lives. DMAD helps teenagers get a better understanding of the necessity for healthy, continued father/child relationships. With this increased education, our communities and family structure are enriched - building better better communities.

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.

Robert90

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been aware of DMAD for more than 10 years. First as a colleague, then a trainer, and finally as a board member. I was always impressed with the committment and loyalty of those who were involved in the program. This program does make a difference in the lives of those they touch. I support them as a valued community partner.

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.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

How we form families is changing. The traditions of marriage, children and death till we part no longer represent the experience of many mothers, fathers and children. But the need for parents who are involved in the lives of their children remains critical. Dads Make a Difference provides a way for young people - both male and female - to consider this important need - from their perspective as a young person and also for the future family they will form. Through a youth teaching youth model, this critical conversation happens in the classroom and through youth serving programs. DMAD is an excellent example of prevention at it's best.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In my work with families, and with youth, the important conversation about when to have a child and who to have that child with has not been an easy one. DMAD was developed to help young people and their families consider the very important decision to become a parent. It was developed to include the young men in the conversation. It was developed to help young women recognize the importance of a father to their future child. For nearly 20 years, this program has been reaching out to help young people think and communicate about these issues. It has been evaluated and the results are very positive. It is a program that has changed lives. I am very proud to have been a part of this program and know that the work is not done. We need more opportunity to reach out to the next generation of parents with the information and the conversations provided by DMAD.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For the teen teachers Dads Make A Difference is the ultimate youth development experience. Not only do they gain personnal insights into the value of involved fathers but they demonstrate skills as effective educators and and leaders for younger students. I continue to be proud of these dynamic and dedicated youth.

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.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I have been an advisor to the development and implementation of the program since its inception. Dads Make a Difference has been a critically important innovation to address the issue of parenting too soon and father involvement in Minnesota. It has played a seminal role in creating dialogue with youth about parenting, mentorship and positive peer advocacy that has contributed to why teen parentage has declined over the last several years thus creating positive futures and eliminating barriers to education and employment for thousands of Minnesota youth..

Advisor

Rating: 4

Dads Make a Difference is an excellent program. I have had two groups of my high school Future Educators trained with Dads Make a Difference. The training is great fun for the students and very valuable. They were so excited to go out to teach to the junior high! I am very impressed with the Dads Make a Difference curriculum.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I was involved with Dads Make a Difference from the beginning as the first staff person and stayed involved for 9 years. Currently I am an annual donor. I witnessed first hand during my involvement the impact learning about responsible fatherhood had on teens and young adults. As a professional still working in the field of teen pregnancy prevention, there is often little focus on males and fathers. I don't know of any other organization and curriculum in Minnesota that educates about Paternity Establishment as DMAD does. I am proud that DMAD has sustained itself for almost 20 years

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I was fortunate enough to see two sets of youth in training sessions. They were being taught priceless life lessons that you do not get in school. The questions they asked reflected that they were very attentive and absorbing the concepts taught. Every child needs to go through this course. The course provides valuable insight into making good life choices. Thanks. Bob Jackson, Hennepin County Child Support

punky10

Donor

Rating: 5

During the 2012 election campaigning, there was a strong focus on women's health, access to birth control and relationships. I participated in several debates with loved ones, co-workers, friends and community members in regards to these issues and often found myself frustrated by the lack of focus on prevention. I found myself wishing for more programming like Dads Make a Difference to engage our young people in conversations about what constitutes healthy relationships, what aspects of life emotionally, financially and physically are so important to have in place before bringing a child into the world and how to make informed, planned decisions around beginning families so those children and their communities are stronger and healthier as an end result. Dads Make a Difference celebrates all families who are raising children in today's society and focuses on personal choice and control in relationships and parenting. I fully believe if there were more options for Dads Make a Difference to be consistently taught in all high schools and middle schools there would be a reduction in teen parenting, young people accessing or needing welfare and divorces as well as an increase in high school graduation rates, effective co-parenting amongst parents and healthier children. Dads Make a Difference is a program that has demonstrated effectiveness through evaluation and years of positively impacting anyone who participates and I will continue to support this program as it moves forward.

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I first heard about Dads Make a Difference from a peer in college. She was trainer for the training being held that weekend and from the moment she named the program I wanted to know more. My dad was the biggest positive influence in my life so I wanted in on this opportunity to create more awareness of the positive impact fathers can have on their children's lives. I had no idea the impact this program would have on my life. Dads Make a Difference disseminates information about the positive roles of fathers in families, the importance of waiting to parent until a person is emotionally, financially and physically ready, and making healthy choices as an individual to create the future one wants. From the evidence-based peer teaching model and curriculum, to the Cadillac-version of trainings, down to each member of the DMAD family, this program strives to stay relevant, accurate and engaging for young people in all communities. The curriculum is updated regularly with current statistics, updated or new activities which match information to real life situations and new information like a focus on healthy relationships, or a new type of family that should be recognized. The trainers are offered staff development each year which highlights important social issues impacting communities and the young people DMAD serves. Jan Hayne, working as a staff of one, believes in the mission and the young people she entrusts to carry it forward each year which gives her the energy to push forward alone, always searching for more funders to recognize the wealth embedded in this organization. For the schools and communities who have chosen to use this curriculum year after year since its inception, they have seen the positive impact young people can have when they are given accurate information and encouraged to share it with others. For the individuals who have chosen to remain engaged throughout the years to volunteer as trainers, interns, board members and teen teachers, they have felt the incredible impact of a shift in mindset to consider the possibilities of a society where fathers are positively invested in their children’s lives. For me, I’ve had young people tell me they are choosing to delay being sexually active until they are ready to parent, several young men I taught went on to establish paternity and become involved in their own children’s lives and I continue to honor my dad’s role in my life each time I share about my experience with DMAD. Dads Make a Difference truly is a GREAT non-profit!

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!"

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Dads Make a Difference since 2000. I coordinated a group of teens who were trained to teach the curriculum to middle schoolers. Many of the teen peer educators had life-changing experiences as a result of participating in this program - one became a teacher, one re-connected with a father who had not been a regular part of his life, and several talked about how what kind of parent they wanted to be. DMAD is a unique program that works to build on the strengths of youth, and truly values their experiences and contributions.

Kelly67

Board Member

Rating: 5

I have been involved with DMAD since 2002 when I went through the program myself as a teen. I then began to teach in the community and eventually became a trainer and continue to train today. I joined the board last year because I am extremely passionate about the work that this program does. I feel that it shaped my life personally and helped me to become a good role model as a student and now an informal mentor to teens. I am a social worker by day and really teel that this program has helped me down this career path as well. I am grateful for my experiences in this program as a teen and beyond and am happy that others have the opportunities to be part of this life-changing program as well!!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

As a former teacher and as a member of the staff of the Massachusetts Child Support Enforcement Division, I was so impressed with the Dads Make a Difference program that I replicated it for use with young people in Massachusetts. I had been involved in child support cases with teens who did not realize the financial obligations that they would have once they became parents. The Dads Make a Difference program educates young people about all the responsibilities that parents have and makes a compelling case for why it is better to defer parenthood until they are ready to meet these obligations. The model of older teens presenting the curriculum to middle school youth is very effective, as the younger students look up to the older teens and are more likely to listen to the messages. The Dads Make a Difference program is an excellent source of information that young people need to know and they hear it in a way that is effective. I can't say enough about this wonderful program!

Advisor

Rating: 5

Dads Make a Difference (DMAD) is a fantastic program that I've had the good fortune of working with over a three year period. I acted as an intermdediary between the high school age teachers, the middle schools, and Dads itself. I attended several top notch trainings and watched the development of the high school facilitators as teachers and role models. It was also a real pleasure to watch the seventh graders and their reaction to and interaction with the curriculum. Dads Make a Difference is an irreplaceable program and a true asset to our kids and communities.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I recommend this program to all high School and Middle schools. My students have been involved in DMAD over the past 15 years and this program had help them build a better relationship with there father. Older teens can be effective role models for younger youth becasue they are closer in age and experience. WE NEED THIS PROGRAM