The Department of Children and Families (DCF) announced this week that it is making $21.2 million available through the state’s new Responsible Fatherhood Initiative.
Two of the three grants will fund resources for fathers and educational opportunities to learn more about parenting. The third grant aids at-risk males in middle and high school.
Gainesville pastor Karl Anderson, founder of P.A.V.E. (People Against Violence Enterprises) and CEO of Community Impact Corporation, believes that the new funding from the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative will have a positive impact on the community of Gainesville.
“We're certainly looking at an opportunity to serve and impact with the money given to us from the state,” Anderson said in an interview. “The bottom line is that a lot of us do the work, but what often hinders us is the lack of financial support. This is why it's a good thing for those that [have] been doing the work, and I keep reiterating that because it's important to know that it's going to get to the right hands to really benefit the right people."
Through his ministries, Anderson said he works with members of the community and provides the resources and training to equip fathers and male youth with the proper tools to be successful. Recently, Anderson partnered with Innovative Dads, a non-profit started by local pastor Gerard Duncan, on an event which emphasized the role of a father.
“[We shared] how we need to be more proactive; being a surrogate father for those who don't have fathers in the home. It was a three-day event,” Anderson said.
The city of Gainesville announced a gun violence initiative in January. One of the preventative methods the city is trying to enact is investing in young people, which one of the grants is directed toward.
“Providing educational and extracurricular opportunities for those that need access to mentorship, leadership and structure will be critical in our strategic fight against community violence,” the city said on its website.
Anderson is joining the city’s initiative to use the new grant money for programs that promote youth to express themselves. Anderson’s Upper Room Ministries, offers dancing, theatre and music programs for youth.
“Instead of being divisive, and fighting over territories and different things, if we come together and make music and really build interest in music and expressing themselves and learning how to be harmonious. It has been proven that music is a catalyst, art in general is a catalyst for redirecting our youth,” Anderson stated.
When announcing the initiative funding this week, the state identified mentorship, leadership and structure as important features of a strong family unit. It said the Responsible Fathers Initiative was designed to equip fathers with the correct tools and resources to support their families.
“Studies have shown that when fathers are involved in their children’s lives, there are undeniable benefits – children are statistically less likely be abused or neglected, and they have fewer behavioral and psychological problems,” DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris stated in a press release about the Responsible Fatherhood Initiative, which the Florida Legislature created last year.
Pastor Anderson is trying to build a safer community through outreach, but he emphasizes that the community needs to step up and help.
“It's going to take all of us to come around and really do things collectively to make sure that we are impacting this community,” Anderson said.
To apply for the grants, click on the following links (descriptions provided by the state):
- The Comprehensive Needs of Fathers grant: This will fund services that address the needs of fathers such as assisting them in finding employment, managing child support obligations, understanding child development, and enhancing parenting skills.
- The Evidence-Based Education Programs for Fathers grant: This will fund educational programming that focuses on topics such as parent coaching, co-parenting collaboration, newborn and infant care education, and parenting skills training.
- The Mentorship Programs for At-Risk Male Students grant: This grant will assist at-risk male students who are in middle school or high school in developing economic, social, emotional, and cognitive skills to prepare them for future success.