The Father Factor

How Fatherhood Programs Can Get into the 2Gen Game

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Feb 23, 2021



One the most recent and fastest-growing efforts to strengthen families are two-generation (2Gen) programs and initiatives. 2Gen efforts have attracted a lot of attention and increased funding.

So, how can you get in the 2Gen game with a fatherhood program or initiative?

It’s possible you’re already in the game and just don’t know it. By reading this post and accessing the resources at the end of it, you’ll be able to determine whether you’re already part of a 2Gen effort. If you’re not in the game, you’ll learn what it takes to be 2Gen so that you can spot such an effort to start or join.

What is 2Gen?

First and foremost, 2Gen is a strategy or approach to alleviate poverty. Its hallmark is providing programs to low-income parents and their children at the same time instead of separately.1

Beyond that basic definition, it’s vital to understand that 2Gen is more than a combination of simultaneously-run programs. It’s an approach comprised of five components that work in synergy to put families “on a path to economic security.”2 These components are:

  1. Early childhood education
  2. Postsecondary and employment pathways
  3. Economic assets (asset building, housing, and public supports)
  4. Health and well-being (mental, physical, and emotional health coverage and access to care)
  5. Social capital

Getting in the Game

Depending on the range of programs and services your program or initiative offers to fathers, it might fit into any one or more of the five components. If you just offer a fathering education program, for example, I’d argue that it fits into component four as it would build the health and well-being of fathers by helping them become better parents and, depending on its content, husbands or partners. And if it has a component on how to better manage finances, it would also fit into component three, economic assets.

The key to getting in the 2Gen game is to conduct an assessment of which components it already includes and build from there by adding additional programs and services to address all five components or finding partners who can add the missing components and strengthen the existing ones. 2Gen programs almost always include partner programs or organizations.


Click on the embedded links below to learn more about 2Gen programs and initiatives from some of the most prominent organizations involved in 2Gen work.

Ascend at the Aspen Institute

Urban Institute

National Conference of State Legislatures

The Center for Law and Social Policy

And for a resource on how to apply 2Gen approaches to working with dads, check out this free on-demand webinar from the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse.

1The Aspen Institute (2015). Two Generations. One Future. An Anthology from the Ascend Fellowship. Washington, D.C.: The Aspen Institute.

2The Aspen Institute. (2016). Two-Generation Playbook. Washington, D.C.: The Aspen Institute.

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