All Pro Dad program seeks to engage fathers in district schools

To hear Dallas ISD Partnership and Volunteer Coordinator Thomas Garner tell it, whether they know it or not, fathers have a superpower to make a positive difference in the education and social development of their children and others. So strong is his belief in the idea, Garner is on a mission to recruit as many fathers and father figures as he can to support schools and students as volunteers in the Dallas ISD version of the All Pro Dad program. All Pro Dad is a national male involvement program with 1,000 chapters across 42 states inspiring men to embrace their roles as dads and husbands. All Pro Dad shares guidance, support and practical tips on parenting and family life through training, events and email messages.

Garner is using it as a tool to involve more men in Dallas ISD. He especially wants to recruit Black men. “Of course, this is not a program for just African American men,” he says, “but when you peel back the numbers, realize the number of homes in our community that lack fathers, and read the newspaper and see what’s happening with Black males, it’s important for us to serve.” And what’s in it for the men? Plenty, says Garner. “They get an opportunity to become a better husband, a better man, a better leader in the communities we serve. That’s the most gratifying thing I’ve learned from conversations with other dads in our programs.” To view one father’s testimonial, go here.

Counselor Calvin Grigsby, who works with elementary students at the district’s Barbara Manns alternative school, agrees that male role models can have a positive impact on students. “An involved dad or father figure gives kids a role model, someone they can look up to, someone who is already established,” said Grigsby. “A man who has achieved some goals the student may have in mind for himself can possibly guide the student onto a path to success down the road.” And, he says involved and committed male role models can be as much of a positive influence on girls as boys in terms of helping them set life goals and stay on track to achieve them.

Garner and male representatives of 36 district campuses are preparing for the kickoff of this year’s All Pro Dad program, which will take the form of a Dads Draft. It’s set for 2 p.m., Sat., Oct. 24. Garner says he’s hyped about the event, which, he hopes—even though it’s virtual because of COVID—will display the same excitement as an NFL draft.

“If you visualize or have ever seen an NFL draft with the props onstage, the helmets, the green room for the young men being drafted in the first round, it’s the same hype,” he says. “It’s an opportunity to acknowledge those campuses who want to take the program beyond the draft into their campuses to give men the opportunity to be leaders as fathers and father figures. We can’t get out there and do it in a big way this year because of COVID, but we’re encouraging people to join us in the virtual space for now.”

Garner advises that any campus can create a chapter. There’s a $50 annual fee that covers the cost of training for the campus coach, a link to the All Pro Dad website, daily email affirmations and a supportive network of men on other campuses.

If any campus, father or father figure wants to get in on the 2020 fall draft, there’s still time. To register for the virtual event, see the QR code on the promotional flyer, visit, or contact Garner at (972) 925-5489 or (214) 802-1587.

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