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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..