By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships is using Father's Day weekend to launch the part of its mission that's received the least attention till now: encouraging responsible fatherhood. President Obama is playing a leading role in the effort.
Obama and a list of high-profile dads and mentors are spending this afternoon visiting Washington-area nonprofits focused on youth development (full list of participants below). Later this afternoon, the president hosts a White House town-hall meeting on fatherhood with D.C.-area dads. On Sunday, an Obama essay on fatherhood will grace the cover of Parade magazine.
It's the kind of high-profile celebration of family values that's making it easier for conservative Christian groups like Focus on the Family to change their tune on Obama.
The Associated Press reports on the White House's plans for this afternoon:
In an unusual devotion of time for an American president, Barack Obama is blocking out nearly an entire afternoon to promote the importance of being a good dad as a national priority.
The emphasis on responsible fatherhood is personal for Obama. When he was a presidential candidate he rebuked absentee dads—particularly those in his own black community—or acting like boys and putting their kids at risk. Now one of the world's most famous fathers has a presidential megaphone.
Obama on Friday will visit a nonprofit center that helps train young adults for professional careers; host a town hall on personal responsibility, where successful everyday dads will share their stories; and invite male students from local schools to the White House to have fun hanging with some famous faces.
The day's events will serve to launch an ongoing White House effort on fatherhood and mentoring. The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will host forums around the country this summer and fall to gather ideas on good programs and to help promote them.
"We think if we can lift some of that up, we can inspire more activity and engagement on these issues," Joshua DuBois, the director of the office, told The Associated Press. "Is everything going to change because of one day at the White House and a sustained commitment throughout the year? No. But the president thinks it's important to lead by example, and to do something about these matters."
Here's a list of participants in today's White House-sponsored visits to Washington nonprofits—and the groups they'll be visiting:
Life Pieces to Master Pieces
Dwyane Wade - Miami Heat
Reggie Love - White House staff
Antwaan Randle El - Washington Redskins
Greg Brown - president and CEO, Motorola Corp.
Arch Training Center
U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh
Etan Thomas - Washington Wizards
Asian American LEAD
B. D. Wong - Tony award-winning Actor
Steve Rosen - Northwestern Cancer Center
Latin American Youth Center
Tony Hawk - professional skateboarder
Jorge Ramos - reporter/anchor, Univision
Robert Franklin - president, Morehouse College
Denis McDonough - White House staff
Gospel Rescue Mission
Bobby Flay - award-winning chef
Michael Strautmanis - White House staff
Ballou Automotive Technology Center ( Ballou Senior High School )
Bill Cowher - former NFL coach
Darryl McDaniels of Run DMC - legendary hip-hop artist