I came from middle-class privilege, but after a 1985 vacation to Jamaica, I began to question my dumb luck. I was 8 years old, a pup, and as we were driven to a restaurant to watch Villanova play Georgetown in the men’s NCAA basketball championship, we passed a heap of tent cities tucked into a muddy hillside beside the road. It was otherworldly in the worst possible way. My wide eyes had never seen the kind of abject poverty and helplessness cheek-to-cheek with the extreme luxury of a wealthy tourism industry, and my young brain couldn’t compute how we could spend thousands of dollars to be pampered when thousands of native people had so little.
That singular experience has helped shape my worldview, and 30 years later, I still wrestle with the raw emotion of witnessing that gross financial disparity. For the past couple of decades, I’ve sought out ways that I might help to level playing fields and found opportunities to give back, even during times when I myself had very little. As a grown-ass man who still isn’t comfortable with comfort if others are are struggling, I’ve been finding ways to help a community of dads who are battling disease and those who are striving to do great things. And now, I have found a situation where I can not only help, but take a leadership role.
I’m looking forward to attending the 2015 Dad 2.0 Summit (which starts 100 days from today). Recently, however, I’ve seen fellow dad bloggers—terrific storytellers and writers, truly valuable members of our community—expressing doubts about coming to San Francisco solely because they can’t make the finances work. My first thoughts were how I could help, so I contacted the Summit organizers and pitched the idea of a Dad 2.0 Scholarship Fund, to which we who have received much from this community can contribute as a way to help more of our peers be with us at our annual roundtable.
Fortunately, Doug and John were thinking the same thing as I was, and we agreed that the foundation for helping within our community is already in place. As we’ve matured into an influential, mobilized voice of men and fatherhood over the past four years, we’ve exhibited the strong inclination to open up our wallets and give back without hesitation. From the outpouring of love for Oren Miller, to making sure Chris Routly’s new picture book gets published, to showing Kevin McKeever how much we support him and his family as they work to raise awareness of his daughter’s rare disease, we dad bloggers continue to send a very powerful message: We take care of our own.
The three of us have worked hard to bring this effort to life, and the details of this effort are still coming together. We need to choose a web platform to gather all the contributions. We want to create an incentive plan, with contributors eligible for prizes, and perhaps get a sponsor involved. And we need to decide who gets considered for the scholarship, and how much they’ll get—which of course depends a lot on how much we raise.
That’s why, as newly appointed chairman of the Scholarship Committee, I’m asking you guys, without hesitation, to give $2, $5, $20, or whatever you can to the Dad 2.0 Scholarship Fund. We’re starting with a modest goal of $1,000 in this first year, to be distributed to men who’ve already said YES to wanting to be a part of this community in person when we gather in San Francisco in February 2015. The more we can raise, the more good work we can do.
As extra incentives, Doug and John will offer a free ticket to the Summit to each man who receives a monetary stipend. And I am pleased to personally match the first $250 contributed to the fund this year. Because I have received a lot from this community and from the two Dad 2.0 Summits I have attended—advice, support, and numerous opportunities to make a few bucks—and I’m grateful for the chance to pay it forward.
I’ll be announcing more details as we figure them out. In the meantime, be prepared for me to ask you, if you can, to dig deep and give back. We’ll all be better off for it.
Jeff Bogle is an at-home dad who writes humorously about parenting, family travel, and All Things Childhood on his site, Out With The Kids. He is married to an adorable redheaded gal and has two lovely little ladies ages 10 and under who provide him with countless hours of humorous in-home entertainment. Connect with Jeff using social media: Facebook + Twitter + Instagram + Pinterest.