My Brother’s Keeper Alliance Celebrates the Fathers in Our Lives

My Brother’s Keeper Alliance board chair, Joe Echevarria, reflects on the meaning of fatherhood.

This Sunday is Father’s Day, a great reminder for each of us to celebrate the meaning of fatherhood.

When reflecting on what it means to be a father to my three children, it all comes down to how I can make them feel important, one of the greatest expressions of love. Children who grow up in households with an absent father figure, such as myself, often lack this kind of critical support at an early age.

Because of my experience, I’ve made it a point to be a father figure to my children, but also to others around me, like my sister-in-law who I’m known to as BUD – Back-Up Dad – and her son, Lorenzo or Lo Lo as I call him, who knows me  as welo (for “abuelo”, Spanish for grandfather). The role of a father extends to all who support and empower one another.

Joe Echevarria and "Lo Lo"

Joe and “Lo Lo”

Unfortunately, many children grow up without a father – or a BUD – in their lives. This is especially prevalent in minority communities: roughly two-thirds of African American and one-third of Hispanic children live with only one parent. This is important to note when African Americans and Hispanics raised by single moms are 75% and 96% more likely to drop out of school than their counterparts who are raised by two parents.

In time for Father’s Day, Discovery is releasing a documentary called Rise: The Promise of My Brother’s Keeper, which is available to view on Facebook today, June 19. The film features the lives of a few boys and young men of color, some of whom have grown up without stable support networks, and the challenges laid out by President Obama in his My Brother’s Keeper initiative like encouraging cities to enact coherent cradle-to-college-and-career strategies.

My Brother’s Keeper Alliance answers President Obama’s call for a holistic approach. From helping children to reach their appropriate reading level by third grade, to recidivism efforts, we strive to foster an ecosystem of support for young people who have none.

At the launch of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance on May 4, President Obama empathized with Malachi Hernandez, a young man he had spoken to earlier that day. They grew up without a father figure but had others in their lives who offered support like their mothers, their school teachers and their neighbors. As Father’s Day approaches, I also reflect on those in my life who have been my support network and am grateful that I can now pay it forward.

This Sunday at 7/6c, I encourage you to tune in to Rise on OWN and Discovery, in honor of all the father figures in our lives. As we recognize their importance in the lives of boys and young men of color, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance is encouraging all to step up and help #ChangeTheNarrative.