Understanding the Need to Invest in Fathers for Family Prosperity


In fall 2018, Ascend at the Aspen Institute and the GOOD+ Foundation convened fathers, researchers, thought leaders, policymakers, and practitioners to explore “The Father Factor: A Critical Link in Building Family Prosperity.” The convening was born of the recognition that while the important role of fathers in society has been increasingly documented in recent research and by experts working with families, it has not gotten the attention it needs from a broader range of policymakers, practitioners, and funders.

Together, we unpacked questions like: What situations and circumstances prevent fathers from being fully engaged in the lives of their children? What are the hallmarks of engaging fathers effectively? How should we think about reimagining public systems and services to work for 21st-century families?

This brief summarizes answers to these questions and highlights innovations from GOOD+ grantees and Ascend Fellows and Network Partners. These leaders are reshaping family narratives to elevate the importance of mothers and fathers in children’s lives, building new and adapting old education and career pathways to serve fathers and families more holistically, creating opportunities for justice-involved fathers as they re-enter communities, and so much more.

Ascend and the GOOD+ Foundation share a commitment to the prosperity and well- being of children and their parents. In working to build pathways to opportunity for families, we have always supported the dreams of mothers and their children. As our work has evolved, we have come to better understand the need to invest in fathers as well. In the coming months, we will build on the partnerships and lessons of the Father Factor convening by releasing a series of policy briefs on child support that complement GOOD+’s investment in father-serving organizations and the father- focused work within Ascend’s national network.

We hope this brief inspires you to consider and share how your strategies to move families toward opportunity are engaging fathers.

Check out highlights from the convening and learn more:

This conversation highlighting the importance of fathers in helping children and families thrive was the fourth convening of Ascend’s 2018 Solution Series, a collection of briefs, webinars, and convenings that elevate the top opportunities and actionable solutions to move children and their parents toward educational success and economic security.

Anne Mosle is vice president at the Aspen Institute and executive director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute.

Jessica Seinfeld is president and founder of the GOOD+ Foundation.