2019 BTS Humanitarian Award

My name is Vernon L Owens. I am the Director of Programs for the Dovetail Project. A fatherhood initiative dedicated to helping young fathers ages 17-24 in Chicago. We teach our young men Parenting Skills, Life Skills and Felony Street Law. Upon completion of the program Student receive a GED, Job or Trade along with a $450 stipend. I’ve been working for this organization since January of 2012. For the last seven years, I’ve seen this organization grow to become the largest Fatherhood initiative in the State of Illinois, in 2019.

I started out working as the facilitator and over the years watched my roleexpand to Director of Programs. I grew up in the same type of environment as most of the young men who participate in our program.  A neighborhood plagued with drugs, gang violence, and lack of resources. I was also told that I wouldn’t amount to anything, having been in and out of jail as a young adult. So, I took those comments to heart and I challenged myself. I wanted to be an example of a person who changed for the better.

My life story is no different than the young men we serve. Now I pride myself on positioning these young men attain their goals, by educating, engaging and empowering them. They all come from backgrounds of limited to no support. Many of their families have given up on them and others have endured some form of trauma. Chicago is mostly known now for the violence that plagues our city. My job is to help change the narrative. In doing so, our young fathers become better informed, which translates to a “Better Father & Brighter Future”.