A national thought leader on how we can improve the life outcomes of black men, CFUF uses best practices learned from more than a decade of service to the Baltimore community to teach others and advocate for policy changes in Baltimore, Maryland and the nation.
Sometimes, the story of an organization is so closely intertwined with the story of its founder, it’s impossible to tell one without the other. For the Center for Urban Families, that founder is Joseph T. Jones, Jr. – a visionary, charismatic leader who, in the 1990s, saw the effects of a disengaged, hurting community of men and set out to make a change.
Joe founded the Center for Urban Families in 1999, after a decade of working for the Baltimore City Health Department. With David as Chair of the Board of Directors, CFUF would become one of the nation’s most highly regarded responsible fatherhood programs, on the leading edge of a body of work that came to be known as black male achievement.
On his first assignment with the Baltimore City Health Department – heading out into communities to convince young, low-income mothers-to-be to enter prenatal care – Joe noticed that young men were being completely left out of the dialogue. No one was talking to these men about fatherhood.
Joe’s observation led to the launch of a division of Men’s Services within the health department’s Healthy Start program. In 1993, Joe quickly understood that the program would have to be much broader. At the heart of the issue was employability: how could these fathers truly connect with and provide for their families if they lacked the skills to get and keep a job?
Joe’s solution: bringing STRIVE, an intensive attitudinal training showing remarkable results in Harlem, to Baltimore’s west side in 1998. A year later, with the blessing of Baltimore City Mayor Kurt Schmoke, Joe spun off and founded the Center for Urban Families, bringing his program under a nonprofit umbrella and offering intensive services for fathers.
Launching with a staff of 6 in a crumbling City-owned building, Joe and David grew the organization to serving more than 1,500 fathers and families a year out of a state-of-the-art community center in the heart of West Baltimore.
Today, CFUF is a national leader in workforce development, fatherhood and family services. Joe serves as an appointed member of the President’s Taskforce on Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families. He and David work tirelessly to instill the best practices CFUF learns through its robust direct service program in the minds of policymakers, funders and others who do this work.
David is in his thirteenth year of service as chairman of the Center for Urban Families, joining the Board of the Center for Urban Families just short of its first meeting in 1999. He’s generously and wholeheartedly supported the growth of the organization’s big ideas – including an innovative alumni engagement program, a Programmatic Quality Committee that ensures the best life outcomes for CFUF’s clients, and a social enterprise that employs graduates of STRIVE – and will continue to do so through the Warnock Foundation.