"The Vase" by Xadrian Shumpert will be featured as part of the "PPRC Photography Project: Fathers' Support Center" exhibit, which is on display at UMSL and the Prince Hall Family Support Center in St. Louis.

If a man becomes estranged from his children, there’s a place to find help. It’s the Fathers’ Support Center in St. Louis. And it’s the latest subject documented by the Public Policy Research Center at the University of Missouri–St. Louis for its Photography Project series.

FSC is a comprehensive, holistic fatherhood development program. Adult clients can participate in four programs, including Family Formation Program, a six-week intensive “fatherhood boot camp.” Other programs include: The Employment Development and Placement Program, Legal Clinic and Fathers Rap Program.

Since beginning in 1997, the FSC has served nearly 3,300 fathers and their families (including about 7,200 children) to transition the non-participating father to a position of involvement and equity in the life of his child or children. The nonprofit has reported success with its participating fathers including a 70 percent employment placement rate and a 72 percent job retention rate. In addition, the FSC reports that 72 percent of the participating fathers are now financially supportive of their children and 80 percent maintain interaction with their children.

PPRC Photography Project instructor Lois Ingrum worked with 14 fathers from the Family Formation Program to create “before-and-after” photographs of their first and last days in the program, individual self-portraits and images of their surroundings. They also took their cameras to Bonding Day, an outing that gives participating fathers the opportunity to use the parenting skills they learned through the program.

The resulting photos make up the exhibit “Photography Project: Fathers’ Support Center,” which will be on display March 20 through May 6 at the PPRC Photography Project Gallery, south hall of the fourth floor in the Social Sciences & Business Building at UMSL, 1 University Blvd. in St. Louis county (63121). Gallery hours are from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. An opening reception will be from noon to 1 p.m. March 20 in the gallery.

A duplicate of the exhibit will be on display March 20 to May 6 at Prince Hall Family Support Center, 4411 N. Newstead Ave. in St. Louis (63115). The exhibit can be viewed from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. An opening reception will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. March 20 at the Prince Hall Family Support Center.

The pioneering community photography programs established by artist and teacher Wendy Ewald serve as the model for the PPRC Photography Project. Several volunteer St. Louis-area community groups participate in the PPRC Photography Project each year. They learn the basics of photography and then are asked to document efforts to improve their neighborhood’s quality of life.

The Public Policy Research Center’s goal for the project is twofold: to highlight the undertakings of local organizations working toward the greater good and to inspire people to take a closer look at and get involved with their communities.

The Photography Project is co-sponsored by the Public Policy Research Center at UMSL, Missouri Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts and Regional Arts Commission.

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Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz

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