Supporting Minnesota Dads at the Capitol

Goodwill-Easter Seals staff and participants have spent a lot of time at the Minnesota Capitol so far in 2017 advancing our mission of eliminating barriers to work and independence. This month, we joined forces with dads from Park Rapids, Walker and Rochester to tell our stories in front of the Minnesota House and Senate jobs committees. Why? We want the State of Minnesota to support happy, healthy, stable families through an appropriation to the Goodwill-Easter Seals FATHER Project and our partners.

FATHER Project group photo in front of capitol building

(L-R) Guy Bowling, FATHER Project Workforce Development Manager; Matt Zimmerman, FATHER Project Facilitator in Cass County; Joe Johnson, FATHER Project Coordinator in Park Rapids; Michael Wirth-Davis, Goodwill-Easter Seals President and CEO; Andrew Freeberg, GES Director of Community Programs

From 1999 through 2015, federal funding provided critical support for the FATHER Project and helped it expand across the state. Without federal funds, services continue, but they have been scaled back. This is why investing in the FATHER Project is a no-brainer.

  • It helps kids. Children raised in two-parent households are five times less likely to experience poverty (source). The FATHER Project sets dads up to support their kids both financially but emotionally.
  • It helps dads. Through parenting classes, GED tutoring, job search assistance, child support services and more — the FATHER Project’s holistic approach helps dads achieve better jobs and closer relationships with their families.
  • It makes good business sense. A study by the Wilder Research Center showed that for every $1 put toward the FATHER Project, there was a $3.41 return on investment.
Senator Paul Utke greets his constituents after the Senate jobs committee hearing
Senator Paul Utke (R - District 2) greets his constituents after their testimony. (L-R: Johnson, Zimmerman, Senator Mark Koran [R - District 32], Utke)

Matt Zimmerman, a past FATHER Project participant and current lead facilitator in the Cass County extension program, sums it up like this: “This program helps give all of us fathers confidence in parenting. It goes beyond that, though. It makes us better spouses, partners, employees and members of our community.”

Joe Johnson, FATHER Project, testifies before the Minnesota Senate jobs committee
Joe Johnson testifies before the Minnesota Senate jobs committee

Senator Koran meets with GES and FATHER Project staff before introducing their testimony