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.