Parenting can be difficult under the best of circumstances. But it becomes infinitely harder when you didn’t have a parent around to model those skills for you, you have a challenging relationship with the other parent, you become a parent earlier than you were planning or you experience any of the various complications that go along with being part of a family.
Parenting is also incredibly important — for our children, our families and our community as a whole. That’s where the Dad-E Academy comes in. It started as an offshoot of the Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC) when CPC Executive Director Otto Kelly realized how many of the pregnant women coming in for help were not getting the support they needed from their male partners.
“Otto saw the need and the desire in the men to step up and accept their responsibilities,” explains Dad-E Academy Director of Outreach Tim McGivney. “So he and a few other men began offering classes and groups for them. And it all grew from there.”
McGivney got involved when his own then-girlfriend/now-wife was pregnant two years ago. “I went through the program and got marital and fatherhood counseling,” he says. “I was being really selfish, and I was in a negative place in my life. Otto taught me I can be a man of integrity, what that entails and how to practically live that. And my family is worth that.”
Through his experience, McGivney felt a strong calling to help other men he believed would benefit from the classes, so he started reaching out to them. “That’s where my heart was,” he says. “Otto identified it and helped me step into this role.”
In 2018, Kelly and McGivney shared their vision with LaMarcus Tinker, a television and film actor who had recently moved to Reno. A new dad himself, Tinker shared McGivney’s passion for supporting good parenting in other men.
Tinker is a film producer, the owner of LRT Interests and Scoot Productions, LLC., while also serving as a branch manager of a South Lake Tahoe financial institution. But it’s his experience with counseling and his own mentors that give him the experience he needs for this role.
“LaMarcus’ relationship with his own father was unhealthy,” McGivney says. “As a new dad, he was compelled to reach out and help other men who might have had a similar experience and needed the tools to be good fathers themselves.”
Working together, the three men were able to bring in renewed energy and formalize the new organization.
The Dad-E Academy became a 501(c)3 organization at the beginning of 2019, with Kelly serving as president/founder, Tinker as chief operations officer and McGivney as director of outreach.
“Now we serve dads in any capacity, independent of the Crisis Pregnancy Center,” McGivney explains. “We’re looking for men who want to be the best fathers they can be.”
Using evidence-based curriculum and guidance from the National Fatherhood Initiative, Dad-E Academy works with Northern Nevada fathers through parenting classes, regular dad meet-ups and private sessions, as well as online through its website and Facebook Live videos, email, phone calls or text messaging. They have counseling, which can be faith-based or not, depending on what the fathers are looking for. And they host weekly Man Cave meetings, where men are invited to share their personal challenges with other men who might be going through similar experiences.
All Dad-E Academy staff members and volunteers go through background checks before working with families.
The Dad-E team is now talking to officials about getting involved with court-ordered programs, as well as prisons, jails and other areas where they can offer valuable guidance. “We’re very open to involvement with community events, wherever we are wanted and needed,” McGivney says.
They knew they were on to something important when the Nevada Department of Welfare reached out to see if they would be expanding statewide, as Nevada is one of only a few states without formal fatherhood programs.
Why it matters
While there are many capable, responsible, healthy people who were raised without a father in their life — by a single mother, grandparent or someone else — statistics show that an involved father can positively impact a child’s development.
As Dad-E Academy shares on its website:
- Dad’s involvement during pregnancy positively influences health outcomes for mom, dad and baby.
- Individuals from father-absent homes are 279 percent more likely to carry guns and deal drugs than peers living with their fathers.
- Father involvement in schools is associated with the higher likelihood of a student getting mostly As.
- Adolescent daughters are less likely to engage in sexual behavior when they have consistent contact and a sense of closeness with their dads.
- Adolescent boys with absent fathers are more likely to engage in delinquency than those with fathers who are present.
Visit dad-eacademy.com/facts for more data about father involvement and sources.
“The statistics show a clear link between fatherlessness and self-esteem,” McGivney says. “If we’re not there to affirm our children, they can be influenced by someone who does not have their best interests at heart.”
While the Dad-E Academy is focused on the importance of fatherhood, they don’t discount the important roles that mothers, grandparents, other family members and friends play in nurturing children.
“If the biological father isn’t in the picture, other trusted men can step up to positively affirm the child,” McGivney says.
The Dad-E Academy welcomes step-fathers and other men who spend time with children and want to improve their parenting skills. They also offer screening and educational services for people that mothers and guardians want to be involved in their children’s lives.
“Any parent or guardian, male or female, who has a question or need pertaining to the development of their child can call us,” McGivney says.
How you can help
- The Dad-E Academy hosts regular outings where dads can bring their kids to fun events, so they can use discounted/donated passes. “If you would like to welcome our fathers and children to your organization or offer them services, let us know,” McGivney says.
- As a start-up organization, they can always use financial donations.
“We’re throwing away the idea that men don’t need help,” McGivney says. “We’re all coming together to learn how to best lead and serve our families, which strengthens our communities and betters our world.”