Willie Cook, a father and role model committed to his children's education, was frustrated by the lack of men involved in schools. Typically being the only black male at a school function but understanding the impact that the presence of a caring adult makes on the life of a child, Mr. Cook was inspired to create Fathers Active in Children's Education (FACE) in 1993.
The volunteers of FACE are men of all generations – fathers, grandfathers, uncles, neighbors and friends – who work together to provide male leadership and guidance. FACE volunteers provide children and young people the inspiration, education and life skills they need to succeed. The In-School/After-School program, the FACE Mentoring program, and the FACE Urban Village project, are the major components of the program.
The In-School/After-School program serves four urban elementary schools in the city of Montgomery. FACE volunteers provide tutoring sessions, campus security, chaperone services, workshops and achievement awards. In addition, there is a month-long Black History Scholars Bowl tournament among the four schools.
The FACE Mentoring program is a "rites of passage" program for participating 12- and 13-year-old African-American males. 20 mentors, from various professions, commit to teaching manhood development, preventative health practices, spirituality, politics, economics and the importance of community involvement to young men from single-parent homes. After successful completion of the program – each child must pass a written and verbal test – there is a celebratory ceremony.
The Urban Village project mobilizes the young people as volunteers to their own community. On Make a Difference Day, FACE youth volunteers were trained to install smoke alarms. After the training, they installed smoke alarms in the homes of 35 elderly persons. They enjoyed the interaction so much that they went back to a few homes on Christmas to help put up decorations.
Since its inception, the number of volunteers has tripled; the number of students they serve has grown exponentially to 4,000 from different schools, churches and communities in the Montgomery area.