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DAD Series - Equity Meets Action

Jacob Pinney-Johnson

The latest edition of our DAD Series features Jacob Pinney-Johnson, a proud father to a seven-year-old daughter and two-year-old son and a member of The Kalamazoo Promise’s inaugural class of graduates.

Becoming a dad was a “world-changing event” for the fourth-generation Kalamazoo resident. Looking back on his upbringing, Pinney-Johnson is thankful for the example that his own dad set as well as the fatherly guidance he received from two local organizations previously covered on our blog.

“I was lucky enough to grow up with an engaged father in my life,” he shared. “My dad was a veteran of the Vietnam War, so he was very strict. I think I had been socialized that fathers were to provide financially and keep order in the household.

“Becoming a father myself, I realized there is so much more to parenthood. I learned that I also need to be a nurturer for my children. The Fatherhood Network and the 4Dad Fatherhood program are resources here in Kalamazoo that offer support for dads. Having other fathers that I could connect with made me realize there really is no one-size-fits-all approach to fatherhood.”

Professionally, Pinney-Johnson works for Urban Alliance where he assists individuals as they work toward self-sufficiency through the development of life and job skills. As the Classroom Coordinator, he oversees the Momentum Urban Employment Initiative, a six-week workforce development program focused on career readiness.

“As part of my job, I work out of the Douglass Community Center and help facilitate the different sessions as well as coordinate with the volunteer instructors and guest speakers from the community,” he said.

Having graduated from Loy Norrix High School in 2006, Pinney-Johnson used The Promise to attend Western Michigan University and earn a bachelor’s degree in Social Work with a minor in Holistic Health. He is glad to see more African American students using these gifts to follow their passions, but recognizes that there is still more work to be done.

“When I was in school, less than 50 percent of black males graduated,” he said. “That number has increased to 61.5 percent, but we are still a long way from where we need to be as a society. As Kalamazoo Promise Scholars, we need to use our education and experience to stand up and right the wrongs.”

Drawing from his own experiences, Pinney-Johnson hopes to teach his children the importance of love, justice, equity, and action.

“I want them to understand that people of color come up through social and economic barriers and that we all have an obligation to contribute to the betterment of our community,” he explained. “I try to follow an indigenous philosophy, that every decision we make as parents should have seven generations down the line in mind.”

We enjoyed getting to know more about you, Jacob. Thank you for being an advocate for the marginalized members of our community and showing future Promise Scholars how important it is to pay it forward.

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