Wesley International Academy’s Melanie Dillett-Dukes was looking for a way to start a meaningful conversation about events in the news. And she wanted to have that discussion with her colleagues first.
“After the trauma of black and brown people was broadcast to the world, I proposed to my executive director that we have a serious conversation,” she said. “We have a mixed staff, and we’re a predominantly black school with about 750 students in kindergarten through eighth, but we didn’t have strong, meaningful conversations on racism, inequities and oppression. We needed to start talking about racism and how it impacts students, teachers and parents.”
Dillett-Dukes suggested the staff read “Stamped,” a book by Jason Reynolds that was published last summer to tackle just such complex topics.
Denesha Thompson Joins redefinED atlanta as Director of Public Engagement and Advocacy
“The pandemic exacerbated inequities of place and resource that many Atlantans already experienced before March 2020,” said Margaret Mullins, the admin and communications coordinator of Atlanta Bicycle Coalition.
The Atlanta Bicycle Coalition is a nonprofit that works for equitable and sustainable transportation in Atlanta through programs like Bike Family which provides bike safety education and resources to second graders and their families in school communities located along Atlanta’s high-injury network, the area of the city where planning and policy make it significantly more dangerous to travel.
“One’s ZIP code, race or income should not impact the likelihood of getting hurt or killed while trying to get somewhere. Atlanta’s high-injury network findings show that our least safe streets are not evenly distributed — around 88% of Atlanta’s traffic fatalities occur on less than 8% of Atlanta’s streets — disproportionately affecting neighborhoods with higher shares of Black residents, lower median incomes and more families without access to a car,” said Mullins.
How to get help: Learn more and sign up at AtlantaBike.org/classes.
Fathers Incorporated launched in 2004 to show how dads positively affect children’s personal development including educational outcomes. In 2016, the nonprofit group kicked off a new aspect of its programming, Real Dads Read, in a creative and effective setting: barbershops.
“Our program is a two-generation approach to engaging and improving outcomes for both men and children where they are bonding and spending time through literacy,” said Fathers Incorporated founder and CEO Kenneth Braswell.
The program enables fathers to share books in the barbershop that are intentionally chosen to be culturally relevant for African-American families. The children can also take the books home for free.
“At the time, people were not ready to hear and talk about fathers in the endearing way that they talk about moms and children,” Braswell told the Atlanta Business Chronicle last year. “But that has changed in recent years, as has the perception of what it means to be a father today.”
Fathers Incorporated’s core values emphasize the role of father figures in supporting their children holistically through the promotion of Responsible Fatherhood.
“Masculinity is not what it was 30 years ago. Now, not only can fathers be protectors and providers,” Braswell told the Chronicle, “but we can also be nurturers, and being nurturers is just as important to us as the other things are.”
Building on its early success, Real Dads Read grew from 20 barber shops to nearly 100 barbershops and Atlanta Public Schools throughout Metro Atlanta and Columbus Georgia.
Then COVID hit. People were not coming to barbershops anymore, and Fathers Incorporated had to figure out how to reach families. With the support of a grant from the redefinED atlanta Innovation Fund, Fathers Incorporated was able to adapt by offering an adaptation of our Real Dads Read Curriculum guided from a parent’s position.
Teaming up with the Atlanta Public Schools Police Department and the creation of the Real Dads Read Mobile Units, officers helped deliver more than 1,400 books to families in underserved neighborhoods. The mobile units focus on reaching African-American children during the summer months when schools are not open. They’ll head back out later this month.
The mobile units expanded the reach of Real Dads Read while tapping into and strengthening the relationships APS police officers have built within communities.
“Our community deeply values the role dads play in our children’s lives. Black fathers in Atlanta and Columbus are breaking stereotypes and redefining their roles as parent figures, which is inspiring and empowering,” said Braswell. “There’s nothing they can’t do, and the success and wellbeing of their children proves it. I’m proud that Fathers Incorporated has been able to support them.”
Learn more about Fathers Incorporated and Real Dads Read at https://www.fathersincorporated.com.
Photos courtesy of Fathers Incorporated.