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In 1993, while working as a Baltimore City Health Department social worker, Joseph T. Jones, Jr. recognized that there were few resources available for fathers.

Joe was inspired to create the Men’s Services program as part of the Baltimore City Health Department’s Healthy Start program.

joe jones headshot

Joe saw that participating fathers were committed, but lacked the skills to provide for their children.

From Men’s Services to STRIVE®

By 1998, under Joe’s leadership, Healthy Start had introduced a three-week job training program, STRIVE® Baltimore, whose innovative employment strategy complemented the services already being provided to fathers through Men’s Services: reconnecting with families, finding employment, resolving child support issues, overcoming addiction and learning parenting skills.

Center for Urban Families is Founded

Joe would eventually go on to found the Center for Fathers, Families and Work Force Development, Inc. in 1999, later renamed the Center for Urban Families, to reflect our unrelenting focus on strengthening not only fathers, but also families.

First Programs & Initiatives

The STRIVE® Baltimore Employment Training program and the Men’s Services Responsible Fatherhood program served as the organization’s first initiatives. Successful implementation of both programs led to the launch, in 2005, of the Baltimore Building Strong Families program, a national initiative designed to assist couples with children between the ages of 0-3 months in developing the communication, conflict resolution, parenting, and life management skills necessary to nurture and maintain healthy relationships. Additionally, in 2005, the Couples Advancing Together (CAT) program was established to incorporate the expressed desire of our members to receive financial education and information, while simultaneously developing their skills as couples to sustain healthy relationships and families.

National Reach

In 2007, the organization was provided the invaluable opportunity to expand its reach and expertise nationally, through funding made available by the Federal Office of Family Assistance. Through this grant, Center for Fathers, Families & Work Force Development was contracted to provide training and technical assistance to over 96 Promoting Responsible Fatherhood, Healthy Marriage, and Economic Stability grantees across the country, advising them on recruitment, retention, father engagement, and program design and implementation related to fatherhood programs.

Growing Needs and Headquarters

In 2008, CFUF was faced with unprecedented need.  More than ever, our members who were formerly incarcerated, and un- and under-employed, were turning to CFUF for help.  More and more members were being turned away as our aging headquarters had reached its capacity to house staff and serve members.  Ten years after its founding, CFUF kicked off its second decade with a vision for a new home.

Completed in 2009, our 32,000 square foot facility located at 2201 North Monroe Street anchors Baltimore’s Mondawmin community.  CFUF’s new headquarters is safe and accessible to a growing number of members whom we are now able to serve by providing them with a bridge to reaching family stability and economic success.

Today We’re All In !

In 2019, CFUF launched All In, a unique and comprehensive strategy to accelerate social and economic opportunity and advocate for policies that promote equity and racial justice. Leveraging our 20 years of positive impact, All In targets chronic unemployment and family instability by linking individual accountability, person-centered case management, and supportive networks with workforce development, education, and civic engagement. We maintain an unwavering focus on addressing the key challenges of Baltimore’s urban families by working to connect fathers to their children, create opportunities for economic and financial security through work, and provide access to other key interventions and supportive services.

mural of billie holiday and Baltimore family