By Nate Berg
Over the next two weeks, Next City will unroll short profiles of 77 people, places and ideas that have changed cities this year. Together, they make up our 2012 Disruption Index.Forefront subscribers can download the Index in full as a PDF, complete with beautiful designs and graphics by Danni Sinisi. Readers who make a $75 donation to Next City will have a full-color printed copy of the Index mailed to them.
For some fathers, gaining custody of their children can be one of the toughest fights of their lives. But imagine doing it from prison. Reuben Jones was serving a 15-year sentence for aggravated assault when he successfully lobbied to gain custody to his son. Once released from prison in 2002, Jones set out to help other fathers in similar situations. Jones, who lives in Philadelphia, started Frontline Dads, an organization aimed at helping other African-American men understand and work their way through the system to gain custody of children, handle child support issues and improve their parenting skills. The organization is small, yet its mission to encourage black fatherhood reigns large in urban neighborhoods where single motherhood has become a de facto norm and a lack of strong male role models is often given blame for high rates of violence among black boys.
In January, Jones was one of 20 black men given the BME Leadership Award by the Knight Foundation, which honors black men from Detroit and Philadelphia who are leaders in their communities. With his $20,000 grant, Jones is launching the Frontline Dads Comprehensive Transformation Initiative to expand his efforts to help other black fathers deal with the convoluted systems that sometimes unfairly keep them away from their children. Gaining custody of kids can be difficult, but with programs like Jones’ parents will be better equipped to face the challenge and communities better able to offer strong male role models to their sons.
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.