Photo by Harry Bosk
Joseph T. Jones Jr., founder, president and CEO of Baltimore’s Center for Urban Families, was honored by the Greater Baltimore Committee at its Annual Meeting May 8 as the recipient of the 2013 Walter Sondheim Public Service Award for his work to connect low-income urban men and women to career paths and strong family models.
Working from the nonprofit organization’s center, located on Monroe Street in West Baltimore, Jones “is a beacon of hope to young men and women in Baltimore,” GBC President & CEO Donald C. Fry said in presenting Jones the award at GBC’s 2013 Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore.
Jones knows first-hand the challenges of growing up poor in city neighborhoods. He “lifted himself up from a young life of family trauma, poverty, teen drug addiction and criminal arrest, and now dedicates his life to lifting others up,” Fry said.
Jones’ work in Baltimore championing responsible fatherhood as the key element of strong urban families has garnered national attention and acclaim. He currently serves on President Obama’s Taskforce on Fatherhood and Healthy Families. He was a community advisor during the Clinton Gore administration and served on First Lady Laura Bush’s Helping America’s Youth Initiative.
“He has become over the years a serious thought leader in the area of fatherhood and the connectivity between urban fathers, their kids, the workplace and child support issues,” said David Warnock, managing member of Camden Partners and chairman of Center for Urban Families.
Signature programs at the Center for Urban Families include the Baltimore Responsible Fatherhood Project to increase fathers’ emotional and financial support of their children and families; STRIVE, an intensive job-training program for hard-to-employ fathers; and Couples Advancing Together, which helps low-income parents develop skills as couples to sustain healthy relationships and families.
The center’s Practitioners Leadership Institute, a national initiative, offers training and technical assistance to community- and agency-based practitioners serving hard-to-reach populations.
The GBC’s Sondheim Award, created in 2007 and not presented annually, recognizes individuals not elected to public office who demonstrate extraordinary commitment to community and serving the public good.