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Patrick Patterson and LattimorePatrick Patterson graduated with a joint MSW/MPH degree in 2000, and now he has his very own successful consulting firm, Global Partners for Fathers and Families, which is sponsoring a conference August 29 in Columbia that aims to empower young men of color. Patterson notes that almost 70% of African-American children in South Carolina grow up without a father, which is almost double the national average. Additionally, little more than half of boys of color gradate high school. Patterson was determined to get to the root of the problem.

Patterson is a problem-solver. As a graduate student, Patterson says, “I came here with a pure heart to do the work, but USC gave me the skills and knowledge” to really make a difference. His internship with a fatherhood initiative also expanded his knowledge of the world—before coming to the university, he hadn’t explored much of the state, but by graduation he had visited every county in South Carolina. He says that having the opportunity to see the rest of the state affected him greatly, and he has since traveled to almost every state and a few countries.

Today, he is focused on his consulting firm, which offers grant writing trainings and technical assistance to public and private agencies on effective program management and evaluation. As president and founder of Global Partners for Fathers and Families, Patterson devotes his time and energy to many different agencies and organizations, but he hasn’t forgotten the graduate program that helped pave the way. Earlier this year, Patterson created the Patterson/Woods Endowed Fellowship Fund to support COSW students from underrepresented groups. Patterson’s chief mission is giving back to his community, whether by serving social work students, young men, or families.

The South Carolina Male Achievement conference aims “to look at solutions to move these men and boys forward,” says Patterson. The conference will encourage men to spend time with their kids and “really equip the youth with conflict management skills and leadership skills,” says Patterson. The event is co-sponsored by the CoSW, McDonald’s, Chick Fil-A Five Points, Brookland Baptist Church, The National Campaign for Black Male Achievement (New York), Connections to Success (St. Louis), Central Carolina Community Foundation, IBM, Sisters of Charity Foundation of South Carolina, and Patterson’s own Global Partners for Fathers and Families. The conference boasts a wide variety of learning opportunities for men and boys of color, in addition to sessions tailored to single parents and moms. Attendees can choose from sessions on topics like leadership, fatherhood, money management, and effective writing. All participants will hear a keynote address from Marcus Lattimore, former Gamecock running back and local philanthropist, and the conference will end with a town hall-style conversation featuring Mayor Steve Benjamin and other local leaders.

Registration for the conference is open until August 28 on the website. There are also sponsorship opportunities available, including scholarships for young people who would otherwise be unable to attend.

Patterson values his time working for agencies but believes his shift to business owner is every bit as important. He says “my heart has led most of what I’ve done,” and he still has things he wants to accomplish. He wants to “take what I’ve learned and do what I’ve been called to do, which is connect families,” proving that social work can take many forms.

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