This Black History Month, we honor the GAME CHANGERS: Everyday heroes whose actions make life better for the people around them. SEE ALL OUR GAME CHANGERS HERE.
Place of Residence: Detroit
Why He is a Game Changer: When Dandridge was a 21-year-old senior at the University of Michigan, he found out he was going to be a Father. He also found out that there weren’t many resources geared toward young Black men to help him prepare.
“My first reaction to the news was not joy,” Dandridge told the Michigan Bulletin. “I knew the responsibility of being a Father was going to be a life-changing experience, and I didn’t want to be irresponsible.”
That’s when the idea for Dandridge’s group, New Young Fathers, came into being. He knew there were other young men out there who wanted to be good Fathers to their children but they likely did not have had the guidance and resources to help them do so.
According to the U.S. Census, approximately 50 percent of Black children are being raised in single family households where the Mother is the head.
African-American children living in households headed by a single male account for only 3.5 percent of the total.
Now 39, and married with two children, Dandridge, a law school graduate, is hoping to help young men 25 and younger become better fathers.
Dandridge has used New Young Fathers to host meetings and workshops for young Fathers that deal with everything from anger management to parenting skills. The group has also produced DVDs and materials to help young Fathers. A rap CD with stories told from the perspective of young Dads was another successful project. The goal is to teach young men how to successfully manage their responsibilities in one of the most-important jobs in the world: fatherhood.
“When I found out I was going to be a Father, I had to make some conscious decisions about my behavior,” Dandridge said. “I soon found out that I couldn’t afford to buy both liquor and diapers.”
For his much-needed efforts, Dandridge was named a 2012 recipient of a $25,000 grant from the Black Male Engagement Project from the Knight Foundation and Open Society Foundation. The foundations spotlight Black men working to improve their communities.
There is no cavalry coming to save the day in Black communities in America. The answers we’re looking for reside right within the hearts, hands, and heads of community residents, Shawn Dove, campaign manager of the Open Society Foundation’s Campaign for Black Male Achievement, said in a statement. BME recognizes Black men and boys as assets to the community, not as problems to be solved, and we’re thrilled to be a partner in this strategy.
Dandridge will use the money to give in-depth workshops to young Fathers with the goal of connecting them to a local support network.
“They could be the toughest dope-selling young men, but in their hearts they want to do good for their children.” Dandridge said. “They want to do good and we pull that out of them.”
Check out one of the videos from New Young Fathers offering support and advice to the young Fathers here: