Dwyane Wade and KidsNBA phenom Dwyane Wade is teaming up with Grammy Award-winning hip-hop artist Lecrae and a stellar group of activists to promote the importance of fatherhood. The “This is Fatherhood” challenge launched May 1 and is the first initiative expressing what fatherhood means to young men of color.

The challenge was orchestrated by award-winning filmmaker Art Hooker and Joshua DuBois, the former director of the Department of Justice’s Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Contestants submit a song, video, photo or essay answering the question, “What does fatherhood mean to me?” The campaign’s end coincides with Father’s Day.

This isn’t the first time Lecrae and Wade have dedicated their time to promoting healthy parenting. Lecrae launched a “Man Up Campaign” in 2009. It included an album and movie focused on fatherhood.

“Fatherhood is a unique opportunity and privilege for a man to change the world through his investment in a child,” Lecrae told theGrio. “It is our chance to leave a legacy and an impact that will change lives.”

Wade has primary custody of his two sons, Zaire and Zion. The Miami Heat all-star also credits his father with shifting his focus to sports when he was sent to live with him as a pre-teen. He chronicles the importance of fathers as role models in his book, A Father First. Though Wade’s schedule is hectic, he was eager to join the “This is Fatherhood” campaign.

“When I was first [approached to become] involved with the initiative, I was humbled,” Wade told theGrio. “More than that, I was moved by the fact that one of the reasons President Obama was so passionate about this issue is that he grew up without his dad. He, too, has recognized that being a father is his most important role.”

Though the White House doesn’t have direct involvement with the initiative, it is anchored by the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and was inspired by several of Obama’s speeches.

The president sparked controversy when he said in a recent speech, “There are entire neighborhoods where young people, they don’t see an example of somebody succeeding. And for a lot of young boys and young men, in particular, they don’t see an example of fathers or grandfathers, uncles, who are in a position to support families’ and be held up and respected.”

It inspired DuBois, Hooker and the current director of the Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships office, Eugene Schneeberg, to facilitate the campaign.

“I am proud to join Lecrae and Dwyane Wade to support the This Is Fatherhood challenge,” DuBois told theGrio. “Our culture is in need of strong fathers now more than ever, and I’m excited that people around the country will be submitting songs, photos, videos and essays describing what fatherhood means to them. Through this challenge, dads will be inspired to increase their commitment to family, and young people everywhere will grow in their awareness of the need for strong fathers.”

Schneeberg – who also works on President Obama’s Fatherhood and Mentoring initiative – echoes DuBois’ sentiments. He adds, “For me the issue of father absence is personal and professional.

“I’ve never met my father, I’m a father of three and every day I have the honor of working on President Obama’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative. I am encouraged to see such a diverse set of groups and individuals throwing their support behind this critically important issue.”

“This is Fatherhood” has released a Public Service Announcement (PSA) featuring images of Wade, Lecrae and Obama as well as Joaquin Zihuantanejo, an international poetry slam champion. The PSA explains the challenge and explores the importance of it.

The contest ends June 10. A panel of judges will vote on the best entry and the winner will receive a cash prize as well as a special trip to Washington, D.C. for a Father’s Day ceremony. Fathers are encouraged to submit entries to the campaign’s website.

What do you think of the “This is Fatherhood” campaign Clutchettes and gents?

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