Making Fatherhood Normal

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In 2005, as a resident organizer through work funded by the Annie E Casey foundation, Shawn Gardner realized there was a need to help fathers. This stemmed from a conversation with a father that troubled Shawn because after the father reached out to him there were no resources to aid his journey. Shawn took this concern to Metro Louisville’s Neighborhood Place where he was served in a leadership capacity as the chairperson It was there the first services for men and fathers were provided.

In an effort to bridge the disconnect between fathers and resource providers Shawn, with support from former Louisville Metro Councilman David Tandy, held the inaugural 2NOT1 Fatherhood Conference. This was an effort to get fathers and the resources they need in the same room. The conference was such a needed opportunity it existed for the next seven years.

At the same time, he recognized the need for resources for fathers, he realized there was a need within the single mother community. Many mothers wanted to support the effort of fathers but didn’t know how. The mothers understood there was a void left in the lives of their children when responsible fathers weren’t around. Shawn enlisted the support again of Louisville Metro Councilman David Tandy, to host a series of “Mother’s Forums.”

In 2008, Shawn by encouraged State Senator Gerald Neal, and Louisville Metro Councilman David Tandy founded 2NOT1 Fatherhood & Families. Quickly 2NOT1 established different opportunities to engage fathers while at the same time raising awareness in the community. First 2NOT1 created a safe space for fathers to talk about issues important to them. Second, through a partnership with National Fatherhood Initiative spearheaded by Ron Clark, it provided 2NOT1 with national evidenced based curriculum to work with fathers.

Momentum from the services provided by 2NOT1 shifted the focus to young fathers. In a partnership with Jefferson County Network for Child Safety, and Youth Build Louisville young father workshops were created. The Teen University workshops provided parenting skills for fathers from an evidenced base curriculum.

A few years later 2NOT1 entered another partnership with Healthy Start, a program for new mothers with children under 24 months. Through the arrangement, 2NOT1 facilitated weekly sessions to educate fathers and provide resources.

In 2016 2NOT1 under new director Dr. Georgia Turner focused the efforts of 2NOT1 to work with young fathers, train parents how to effectively co-parent, and continue to be a leader in the nationwide black male achievement initiative. To emphasize the importance 2NOT1 believes in working with young fathers the annual fatherhood conference is now the young father’s summit.

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