Danielle Allen, CUNY Fatherhood Academy Director Danielle Allen, Hostos’ CUNY Fatherhood Academy Director, was born to help people recognize their full potential. Before she came to Hostos, she was already doing life-changing work in the South Bronx at BEGIN Managed Programs as a case manager.

Now, she is helping student-fathers be all they can for themselves, their families and their communities. Her outgoing and no-nonsense attitude is contagious, and she energizes everyone she meets.

Learn more about this change agent that is helping to lift young fathers up the socioeconomic ladder in “10 Questions With …”

Where are you from?
I am a proud New York City native, born in Queens.

When did you arrive at Hostos?
I started working at Hostos two-and-a-half years ago. I have always worked with community-based organizations that specialize in helping people live up to their potential through education and training. So, I started as a Case Manager for Hostos’ Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA) program within the Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development. That grant-funded program offered case management, childcare, transportation assistance, examination preparation courses, tutoring, enhanced career-focused internships, and job placement and retention assistance.

I have a B.A. in Sociology and Communications from SUNY Cortland and also achieved my Master’s Degree in Public Administration from John Jay College, so I have been well- prepared for this type of career. I enjoy being an advocate for pathways to success.

What attracted you to Hostos?
I had been working at BEGIN Managed Programs on 149th Street and Third Avenue in the heart of the South Bronx, so I always knew about Hostos. It was my first job out of college, and I worked as a case manager and employment specialist. It was probably the similar mission of both places that attracted me to Hostos — helping people climb the socioeconomic ladder.

What is the Fatherhood Academy?
The Academy is part of New York City’s Young Men’s Initiative. We offer a free, 16-week high school equivalency and college preparatory program for fathers ages 18 to 28. Our work is focused on making young fathers better parents and citizens. It is a starting point that can lead to a ripple effect when they start to reach their full potential. And, when the children see how hard their father is working, these young men become much stronger role models.

How do you feel the Fatherhood Academy supports social upward mobility?
Our mission is not only to help our students become better fathers, but we also want to guide them to become better citizens. We want our students to be better “co-parents” and have access to everything from better communication workshops to vocational training. This holistic approach has an enormous effect on building confidence as our young fathers look to improve their lives and the lives of their children. Again, the “ripple effect”— it is well-documented here and something we are extremely proud of.

What is the best success story you have seen at the Fatherhood Academy?
Our best success stories come from the students who didn't pass the first time around. One main priority is focused on helping our fathers prepare to take and pass the Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ (TASC) exam. Some of our students need more than one try, but they are also the students that we feel possess the most passion to succeed. They come back sometimes more than twice, but they are always eager to succeed. It is something wonderful to be a part of. This is not just a 16-week program; we build lasting relationships. We offer post-program services, too, including tutoring and even MetroCards, so we see a lot of our participants even after they pass their TASC test.

What do you do when you are not working at Hostos?
I teach a Food Safety Class at Rikers Island so the formerly incarcerated can re-enter the workforce. The training can lead to jobs in restaurants, vendor services or distribution hubs including Hunts Point. Helping people help themselves is something I have always been interested in, because in the end, you are helping to improve your community.

What is your favorite movie or book?
“The Pursuit of Happyness.” I love this film. I just think it is a compelling story about “The American Dream” and how it can be achieved.

What do you see yourself doing 10 years from now?
I think I will always work with people, probably in a very similar field. I am a “people person,” and I also like to work with people and institutions that affect change.

How can people learn more about the Fatherhood Academy?
You can learn more about the CUNY Fatherhood Academy at Hostos by calling 718-518-6831. We are also active on Facebook (@HostosCFA) and Instagram (@Hostos.CFA).