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Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford

The Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford, an Innovation Grant recipient, was rewarded by the National Literacy Directory for its creative solution to a common literacy challenge: promote economic family stability by providing fathers with access to supportive services and information for developing small business plans. Learn more about this program below.

A Father's Business

Recognizing that fathers are historically underserved in parenting education, family support, and family literacy programming, the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford (Connecticut) sought to provide more fathers with access to supportive services and information. In 2013, it created "A Father's Business," a unique program designed to promote the economic stability of Hartford families by providing low-income, minority fathers with the knowledge and skills to develop business plans and launch small businesses to help their families.

The seed was planted for A Father's Business when Asylum Hill Family Center realized many of its fathers had difficulties securing traditional employment, but possessed skills in areas such as graphic and visual arts and landscaping. Program staff designed A Father's Business courses on two resources: The Hartford's online Business Owner's Playbook and Entrepreneurship: How to Start and Operate a Small Business, by Steve Mariotti.

Keeping smaller classes, Catholic Charities is able to provide each participant with highly individualized instruction and support and continuously enhance the curriculum to meet its adult learners' needs. The program successfully employs contextualized learning to not only help fathers launch their own business but also improve their math and literacy skills (i.e. learning math while creating a business balance sheet). The program is also embedded in a neighborhood-based Family Center where fathers and their families can access a wide array of programs and supports including case management, family literacy programming, and basic supports from the larger Catholic Charities network.

Since its inception, 64 fathers have been trained, 120 parents have opened first-time bank accounts, 54 fathers have established business plans, and 49 businesses were established and continue to operate. One participant also won a contract with the state child welfare agency to create a video for homeless teens titled, "Where to Keep My Stuff."

Currently, each graduate receives up to $300 to start his own business. The Innovation Grant funds will help boost support given to future graduates.

Catholic Charities is a non profit agency serving people of all faiths in Hartford, Litchfield, and New Haven Counties since 1920. Catholic Charities exists to promote the dignity, self-sufficiency and human potential of those in need.


The National Literacy Directory is a community of innovative leaders, learners, educators, and student-champions that is managed by the National Center for Families Learning (NCFL). To find out more about future grant opportunities from the Directory, subscribe to NCFL's monthly e-newsletter. To learn about joining the Directory or creating an account, click here.