NewsOne honors GAME CHANGERS: Everyday heroes whose actions make life better for the people around them
Empowered Father Helps Dads Take Care Of Kids
By Jeff Mays
Place of Residence: Philadelphia
Why He’s a Game Changer: Jones was in prison serving a 15-year sentence when he fought for and won custody of his son. When he got out of prison, he started Frontline Dads because he knew how important it was for men to take responsibility for their children.
“Many times men will say it’s too late to be a Father to their children. Well, it’s never too late. No matter what, every child, every human being wants to be connected to where they came from,” Jones told the Examiner. Frontline Dads helps men develop communication skills to better guide their children. The group is also targeting young kids who are on the verge of getting in trouble. The goal is to keep those young people from becoming involved with the criminal justice system. And that’s obviously a difficult task.
Young people are more likely to become involved in the criminal justice system if they have parents or close relatives who have been incarcerated. “If we are not there to teach our children and be role models, then you better believe that there will be someone on the corner who will. Only they will teach them about stick-ups and dope packages.
“Boys need men to teach them how to be men.
“If they only have negative role models, then that will be their frame of reference. They will think that negative role model is what a man is supposed to be.” Jones was awarded a $20,000 grant from the Black Male Engagement Project of the Knight Foundation and Open Society Foundation to continue his important work. Jones originally filed his petition in prison because he wasn’t allowed to see his son, but even when he started seeing his son, he realized there was a lot he didn’t know. Parenting classes helped and Jones realized there were so many men like him out there. “Some men coming out of jail have never even seen the child they are trying to connect with. They have to understand the anger and resentment that child has. They have to understand the emotional and spiritual needs of that child,” Jones said.
Who We Are:
Frontline Dads is a community-based, non-profit organization founded in 2001 that offers mentoring and leadership development programs to “at-risk” youth in Philadelphia. Frontline Dads specializes in addressing many of the stubborn social & educational dilemmas in marginalized and disenfranchised communities and is a recognizable and well respected leader in the field of youth development and prevention-based interventions through mentoring. Frontline Dads became a partner of the Leon H. Sullivan Charitable Trust from 2003 until 2011, at which time a partnership was formed with Youth Services, Inc. to provide after-care services (mentoring) for youth being processed at Youth Emergency Services. From 2004 to 2007 Frontline Dads partnered with Temple University’s Pan-African Studies Community Education Program (PASCEP) to conduct developmental workshops and programming at PASCEP. Community collaborators have included Mothers In Charge, Black Male Development Symposium (BMDS), Diversified Community Services, Daddy University’s Fatherhood Festival, Men United for a Better Philadelphia, and PAL. For its work with youth development, Frontline Dads has been recognized with many awards including the Lucien Blackwell Guiding Light Award, University of Pennsylvania’s African-American Resource Center’s Leadership Award, the Knight Foundation’s Black Male Engagement (BME) Leadership award, and United Way’s Philly Roots Fellowship. Since being founded in 2001, Frontline Dads has provided service to more than 1,200 youth and their families in some of the most high-risk neighborhoods in the city.
What We Do:
The Frontline Dads Mentoring and Leadership Development is a trauma-informed mentoring program that specializes in addressing many of the stubborn social & educational dilemmas in marginalized and disenfranchised communities. Frontline Dads utilizes group level intervention, one-on-one intervention, and a comprehensive support team (clinical, therapeutic, academic, social services, health & wellness and cultural) to address issues of youth violence, intergenerational incarceration, and juvenile recidivism. Service delivery occurs through a culturally sensitive and transformative curriculum, interactive team building activities, multi-media presentations, supervised instruction, hands-on experience, group discussion, psycho-educational field trips, and guest speakers. Through this comprehensive approach, the young men develop the coping skills, critical thinking skills, social skills, life-skills, communication skills, problem solving skills, and conflict resolution skills necessary to able to successfully navigate the challenges in their lives while empowering them to become leaders in their communities. The mentoring philosophy affirms a strength-based, person-centered approach that incorporates cognitive restructuring as a mode of behavior modification. Family involvement is stressed and regular contact is maintained with parents/guardians as an added level of oversight. Frontline Dads Staff and facilitators are highly trained experts in their respective fields with diverse experiences that includes, military veterans, police officers, social workers, therapists, Sanctuary certified facilitators, Thinking For A Change facilitators, health & wellness instructors, computer instructors, and educators.
Reuben Jones is an activist, educator, author, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur who currently serves as the Executive Director of Frontline Dads, a community based, non-profit organization whose mission is to provide leadership and support to “at-risk” youth, single fathers, and ex-offenders. Reuben studied psychology at Millersville University and went on to obtain his Master’s Degree in counseling from Lincoln University, where he graduated with honors and was inducted into the Pi Gamma Mu National Honor Society. He currently works as a trauma-informed clinical therapist in Philadelphia. Reuben has served as a facilitator in the Rites of Passage program at Temple University’s Pan African Community Studies Education Program (PASCEP) and at the Fratur Heru Institute. He is a facilitator for "Thiking For A Change" in the Philadelphia County Prisons. He has served on the planning committee for the Black Male Development Symposium for the last 7 years and has also worked with the Daddy Univercity's Annual Fatherhood Festival. He is a Knight Foundation Black male Engagement (BME) Award winner and is also a winner of the United Way's Philly Roots Fellowship. Other awards include the Lucien Blackwell Shining Light Award from the Mayor's Office, and the University of Pennsylvania's African-American Resource Center Leadership Award.
David Chaney is a Case Manager for the Runaway Youth Program (RYP) at YSI’s Youth Emergency Service teen shelter. He has over 26 years of experience in working with youth and has been a social worker at Youth Emergency Services for almost seven years. Mr. Chaney is a proud Philadelphia native who graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School and went on to attended St. Augustine’s College and graduated with a B.S. degree in economics. He currently serves on the Youth AIDE Panel in Philadelphia and is licensed by the state of Pennsylvania as a youth development practitioner. He is the former Director of PAL in Enfield, North Carolina and was the Assistant Director of the Girls and Boys Club of Halifax County, North Carolina. He is a former Board member of Opportunities PA. David Chaney is also the father of two children, David Jr. and Daisa.
The mission of Frontline Dads is to facilitate the intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and cultural development of African American youth by providing transformative programmin that will empower them to assume leadership positions in their families, and communities.
Frontline Dads, a community-based, non-profit capacity building and advocacy organization was founded in 2001 with a focus on rebuilding communities by re-connecting families. Frontline Dads was developed as a part of a progressive agenda for positive change and since that time, Frontline Dads has been committed to empowering African-American communities by using our experience, insights, and resources, to galvanize our communities in a collective effort to break the vicious cycle of self-destruction, social dysfunction, fratricidal violence, drug addiction, and intergenerational incarceration, which has devastated our communities and families.
The vision of Frontline Dads is to become the pre-eminent source for transformational programming in the Greater Philadelphia urban community while empowering African-American youth with the tools they need to beecome effective leaders who can ensure the collective social progress of marginalized and underserved communities.
410 N. 34th Street, Annex
Philadelphia, PA 19104
www.Frontlinedads.org / Frontlinedads@aol.com