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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

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

mjoberweiser

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I've been a part of the Dads Made a Difference (DMAD) family now for 17 years. During those 17 years I have filled many roles within the organization including teen trainer, adult trainer, staff, and board member. I moved from Minnesota to Oregon in 2009, which meant I was no longer able to fulfill those roles. What has not changed throughout the long history of the organization is the positive, lifelong impact it makes in young people's lives. The positive youth development model empowers young people to take charge of their own decision making. They become informed on life issues that will impact them at some point in the near future, and then they turn around and share that information with younger peers. In other relationships with young people, other positions I've held, I continue to reference the knowledge gained from teaching and training with DMAD. This program is relevant, necessary and a true investment in young people. I cannot imagine not supporting Dads Make a Difference.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Dads Make A Difference (DMAD) is a fantastic program and one I'm proud to have been a part of. In my previous position at a community agency, one of my responsibilities was to oversee the implementation of DMAD in the Minnetonka school district. I recruited young people to attend the training to become educators, then observed the delivery of the Dad's curriculum in junior high school classes. Watching the teen educators develop their capabilities over the course of a year or more was pretty incredible. Everyone involved in DMAD, from the educators to the students receiving the curriculum to their teachers, found their experience both enjoyable and valuable!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The learning from the training and the opportunity to present the curriculum to younger students were invaluable experiences in the lives of the teen fathers I have worked with over the years. The young men felt very respected, and they became empowered as they had a voice to address an issue that is dearly personal for them!

Previous Stories

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am very proud and blessed for my experience with DMAD! I began by bringing teen fathers to the trainings who were rewarded in many ways: they felt validated by their vital role as young dads, they were inspired as they taught the curriculum to other students, and they had fun! After several years of bringing teen fathers to the trainings, I was able to bring my son & his buddy - it was another fun, rewarding and memorable experience that we'll never forget! Thank you, DMAD!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Dads Make A Difference - made a difference in my life. I participated in the Dada Make A Difference program in 1996 as a professional in the field. I was professionally impressed and personally touch by the curriculum so much I became a trainer for the program. After training over 800 participants during my tenure, I was blessed to see up close and personal the impact Dads Make A Difference has made in the lives of young women and especially young men. This program continuously makes strategic and intentional efforts to remain relevant. In addition, the capabilty to also be interculturally competent in its language and delivery of sensitive content is no small feat. Please join me in financially supporting Dads Make A Difference so it remains a timeless pillar in our community and beyond.

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.

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..

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!

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!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My students have been involved over the past 5 years and it has taught my students so much as well as the middle school students. I can't say enough for this program and for Jan Hayne and all the work she does. I recommend this program highly to anyone who would dare to be involved.Darci Cyr, Eagan High School Educator

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I have been having our students from the Alternative school teach Dads make a Difference for several years now. I get students trained, and they teach it in our Health Class. Having our students teach how important fathers are in childrens life, makes a much better impact on others. The student teachers share their stories which makes the class more interesting. I am very happy to have had this opportunity to have this curriculum in our school. thanks. caroline Unke

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I have been involved in DMAD for at least the past 10 years. I love that it is peer-taught and the students really respond to the curriculum. Jan Hayne does a nice job of setting up the trainings and the curriculum is kept up to date and relevant to the age group. The communication has been wonderful and professional. The students deserve to have this presented to them.

lsweet

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Dads Make a Difference is a unique program in which participants can literally grow up in the program. They start as middle school participants and can become trainers. The team that teaches the curriculum is like a family and provides great roll modeling to high school participants who in turn role model to middle schoolers it should be a required curriculum in the state.

Previous Stories
2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This program is great in that it not only teaches young people about responsibilities and consequences of too early parenting, it also builds leadership capacity in the teens who are peer educators. The curriculum addresses peer pressure, responsible choices, family planning, paternity education and more. This unique program offers so much to high school students, middle schoolers and the adult who support it.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

I was introduced to DMAD back in 1997 while working as a Teen Parent Teacher for an ALC in St. Paul. I felt really good about bringing my students (both parents and others interested) to these trainings! It was a very thoughtful, researched-based approach to positive youth development and also I felt the excitement of watching my students in their cross-age teaching of Junior high school students! I would highly recommend any schools or organizations interested in helping support the youth to bring teens to a training or have them come teach in your Junior High School. Students take these topics very seriously and are eager for guidance & direction from all of us caring & encouraging adults in their lives!