In an effort to promote fatherhood, award-winning filmmaker Art Hooker and former director of President Barack Obama’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Joshua DuBois have teamed up to create the “This Is Fatherhood” challenge.
Launched on May 1, the challenge targets young Fathers who may need encouragement and support to become better parents.
Contestants can submit videos, songs, and essays about fatherhood through June 10. The winners will receive cash prizes and a trip to Washington, D.C., for a ceremony on Father’s Day.
Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae is heavily involved in the project, agreeing to give mentorship and studio time to the grand prize winner. In 2009, Lecrae created the “Man Up” campaign, featuring an album and movie about fatherhood.
“Fatherhood is a unique opportunity and privilege for a man to change the world through his investment in a child,” the Georgia native told The Grio. “It is our chance to leave a legacy and an impact that will change lives.”
Miami Heat player Dwyane Wade has also signed on to promote the challenge. As a father with primary custody of his two sons, Wade says he is honored by the opportunity.
“When I was first [approached to become] involved with the initiative, I was humbled,” Wade said. He noted the President’s fatherhood speeches as further inspiration. “More than that, I was moved by the fact that one of the reasons President Obama was so passionate about this issue is that he grew up without his dad. He, too, has recognized that being a father is his most-important role.”
Obama’s Chicago speech in February helped inspire the challenge. In it, the President noted how “there are entire neighborhoods where young people, they don’t see an example of somebody succeeding. And for a lot of young boys and young men, in particular, they don’t see an example of Fathers or grandfathers, uncles, who are in a position to support families and be held up and respected.”
Wade appears along with Obama and Jay-Z in a public service announcement promoting “This Is Fatherhood.” Eugene Schneeberg, current director of the Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, worked with predecessor DuBois to support Obama’s fatherhood program. He is also one of the challenge’s judges.
Watch a PSA for “This Is Fatherhood” here:
However, it hits home for Schneeberg too.
“For me, the issue of father absence is personal and professional,” Schneeberg said. “I’ve never met my father, I’m a father of three and every day I have the honor of working on President Obama’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. I am encouraged to see such a diverse set of groups and individuals throwing their support behind this critically important issue.”
According to statistics from the National Fatherhood Initiative, one out of three children in America live in homes without their biological fathers present.