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Photo provided by Good Dads Inc.

Startup Corner: Jennifer Baker, Good Dads Inc.

Springfield's startup community is here. Take the pulse.

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Minimally viable product …
Resources and activities for father engagement. We help dads be more engaged with their children in four primary ways: 1) fun, affordable events for dads and kids to do together; 2) lunches that offer parenting information and inspiration exclusively for dads; 3) support of the All Pro Dad program in our schools; and 4) weekly e-newsletter and podcasts.

Problem solving …
Children benefit from having an engaged father, but so do the places dads work and shop, and the community in general. Fathers who are invested in the welfare of their children tend to work harder to build a secure future for their families. Because father absence contributes to nearly every social concern we have – poverty, violent crime, mental health issues, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol use, school dropout – communities with more engaged fathers have fewer concerns with public safety and other issues. 

Seed money …
Initially, we had 10 or so local businesses who gave us $500-$1,000 a year in exchange for their right to use our trademarked logo in their marketing and identity. This serves as a foundation for the culture change we hope to achieve.

Hurdles overcome …
We’re probably proudest of the opportunity to work closely with Springfield Public Schools to increase the number of All Pro Dad groups meeting for breakfast once a month. When we began, there were only eight viable groups. Now there are around 20. We get the APD captains from each school together on a quarterly basis at a breakfast hosted by one of our business partners. We listen to their concerns, highlight their successes, and support them with additional resources.

Next phase …
Reaching two unique populations: fathers who work as long-haul truckers and fathers at 185 percent of the poverty level. We are very excited about our partnership with three locally owned trucking companies – Prime, Steelman Transportation and TransLand – and their dedication to helping over-the-road dads be recognized and supported.

Pivot …
My training and experience is as an educator, family therapist and clinical psychologist [at Forest Institute]. When Good Dads began, there was just me and I had to do many things myself. Even though we now have part-time staff, there are still many times I have to do things I once had others to do.

Greatest need …
We want to change a culture to make father engagement the norm. With one in three children living in a home without their dad, that’s going to take increased awareness and creativity from many areas.

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