Contact: Scot Marcotte,
Illinois Fatherhood Initiative
Mobile: (773) 425-7987



Essay Finalist Details

CHICAGO (June 19, 2021) – Each year for the past 24 years, the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative has sponsored an essay contest on the topic, “what my father means to me.”  During that time, nearly a half million essays have been submitted by Illinois schoolkids, read by thousands of volunteers.  These essays capture the poignant stories of fathers, grandfathers, stepfathers, and father-figures who are positively impacting our next generation – one life at a time.

In the face of major change going on around us, 2300 Illinois school children wrote compassionate stories about the men who influence them. More than 300 volunteers virtually stepped up to narrow those heartfelt submissions to 13 father-of-the-year finalists.

This year’s thirteen finalists and their special role models include:

  • Pre/K:  Catherine C, Columbia Explorers, and her father Carlos Cardenas, Father of the Year
  • 1st Grade:  Liena R, Columbia Explorers, and her father Andres Rios, Father of the year
  • 2nd Grade:  Adelyn W, Arbury Hills, and her father Aaron Werkman, Father of the Year
  • 3rd Grade:  Arizbeth P, Columbia Explorers, and her father Ramiro Pineda, Father of the Year
  • 4th Grade:  Diego R, Columbia Explorers, and his father Samuel Rivera, Father of the Year
  • 5th Grade:  Daniel M, Columbia Exploers, and his father-figure Ben Bukovac, Father-Figure of the Year
  • 6th Grade:  Nicolas P, Rachel Carson, and his grandfather Jesus Jasso, Grandfather of the Year
  • 7th Grade:  Arabella E, Bridgeport Catholic, and her father Ken Elliot, Father of the Year
  • 8th Grade:  Enriqueta P, Rachel Carson, and her father Jose Perdomo, Father of the Year
  • 9th Grade:  Tatiyana D, De La Salle Institute and her father-figure Eric Lamont Payton, Father-Figure of the Year
  • 10th Grade:  Soley G, De La Salle Institute, and his stepfather Qortez Lewis, Stepfather of the Year
  • 11th Grade:  Brian M, Saint Ignatius, and his father Michael Moore, Father of the Year
  • 12th Grade:  Aniyah D, De La Salle Institute, and her father Andre Davis, Father of the Year

In this time of change, adapting is critical, as is being an inspirational presence in the lives of children.

IFI president Scot Marcotte reinforces the importance of that presence, “We dads have an obligation to make an impact in our children’s lives; to feed off the many teachable moments going on around us to give needed guidance and hope.”

The country’s first statewide nonprofit fatherhood organization, the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative has a mission of connecting children and fathers by actively engaging fathers in the education of their children. The initiative was established in 1997 to address the increasing problem of father absence in society. 

The Census Bureau indicates that 19.7 million children are growing up in homes without fathers. Furthermore, children from fatherless homes are four times more likely to grow up in poverty and twice as likely to drop out of high school. These children are also more likely to commit suicide, run away, have behavioral disorders, abuse drugs and alcohol, commit crimes and end up in prison, according to the IFI. 

For more information on the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative, please contact Scot Marcotte at 773-425-7987. 


About the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative

The Illinois Fatherhood Initiative (IFI) is the country’s first state-wide non-profit fatherhood organization.  Founded in 1997, the IFI provides resources and programming to help dads take an active role in the education of their children and be actively present in their kids’ lives.