DePaul University Center for Access & Attainment > Partnerships > Male Initiative Project

Male Initiative Project

Since 2007, DePaul has partnered with the Male Initiative Project (MIP), a network of school-based mentoring programs within several middle and high schools designed to improve the high school graduation and college completion rates of African-American and Hispanic/Latino males in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). MIP provides school-based peer mentoring, leadership development training and team building to empower young men to pursue education as a catalyst to success.

MIP also strives to identify and address the physical and emotional issues facing adolescent males of color, to encourage lifelong learning, and to inform the wider community of the issues involved in reaching and serving this student population.

The premise for establishing MIP was sparked by a 2006 research report produced by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research that called attention to the continuing challenge of low college enrollment and graduation rates of CPS students, particularly males of color. In response to these findings, Dr. Shelby Wyatt, professional school counselor at CPS' Kenwood Academy, took on the challenge of establishing male-mentoring programs in high schools across the city like the Kenwood Brotherhood, an organization he helped to start.

DePaul is MIP's main university partner, and the Center for Access and Attainment has managed this partnership since the program's inception.


DePaul's partnership with MIP began with the first annual student development retreat for nearly 300 males of color held in 2007 on DePaul's Lincoln Park campus. Since then, involvement in the partnership has grown and DePaul has:

  • provided a graduate research assistant/coordinator for MIP
  • provided leadership training for MIP counselors
  • provided a violence prevention workshop for counselors
  • provided a male identity workshop for MIP and DePaul male students of color
  • collaborated with MIP and the CPS Department of Postsecondary Education in writing a successful proposal to College Board for funding
  • initiated discussions with CPS about MIP outcome research and reporting
  • hosted seven annual student development retreats, each attended by more than 200 MIP participants

While MIP is a recognized activity with Chicago Public Schools' administration, it depends on the volunteer efforts of counselors, teachers and administrators, and the personal commitment of student participants to realize program goals. In recent years, DePaul has taken on an increased program management role, including securing grant funding for MIP programming.

In 2012, DePaul was awarded a grant from Bank of America to evaluate MIP and take the lead in creating a sustainable network of school-based mentoring programs within dozens of schools that participate in the program. The grant will also help create a digital social learning network that will enable students and mentors to gain knowledge, exchange ideas and connect to a broad range of opportunities.​

Student Development Retreat

The annual student development retreat has been the cornerstone of DePaul's partnership with MIP from the very beginning.

High School

In February 2013, the center hosted the seventh annual student development retreat for high school participants in MIP. Each year, about 200 to 300 males of color travel to DePaul's Lincoln Park campus for a day-long retreat that includes workshops developed by DePaul faculty and staff, and community leaders, in response to feedback from MIP counselors and student participants.

For the 2013 retreat, Options for Youth, a community organization on Chicago's South Side working to combat teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, presented the program keynote. The theme — requested by MIP participants — was "Protect Your Body, Challenge Your Mind." DePaul instructors and staff led workshops on topics including stress, mental health, reproductive health and violence. Past workshops covered a variety of topics including academic success, career exploration, personal and social issues, culture and diversity, physical and emotional health, violence prevention and financial fitness.

Health screenings are provided each year by the School of Nursing. Students also have options to get active during the retreat, with a choice of basketball at the Ray Meyer Fitness Center, a campus walking tour or stepping lessons in the style of African-American and Hispanic/Latino fraternities.

The center works in collaboration with various units across the university, including the Office of Multicultural Student Success' Men of Color (MOC) Initiative, Family and Community Services, Career Center, College of Education, TRIO Student Support Services, Steans Center for Community-based Learning and Campus Recreation, to name just a few of the departments and organizations that make each year's retreat a success.

Middle School

In May 2012, the first middle school student development retreat was held exclusively for boys of color in grades 6 through 8. The idea for a separate event for younger males rose from student evaluations from previous retreats. Like its high school counterpart, the goal of the retreat is to educate and inspire young males toward higher academic achievement and social responsibility. Students attend grade-specific workshops designed to address challenges and develop strategies to succeed in school.​

Programs and Activities

The Center for Access and Attainment hosts a range of program activities for students and coordinators within the Male Initiative Project.

Professional Development. Each fall, the center hosts a professional development meeting for coordinators of the MIP programs in schools citywide, providing an opportunity to share news and best practices and plan for the new academic year and beyond.

School-based Male Mentoring Forum. The center hosted the first-ever Forum on the Effectiveness of School-based Male Mentoring in October 2011. The biennial forum focuses on expanding efforts to promote and strengthen school-based male mentoring as an effective practice for improving educational outcomes for African-American and Hispanic/Latino males, as well as provides a place to share best practices among schools that have successful mentoring programs. A second forum​ took place in October 2013 that focused on the role of technology in enriching and expanding the work of school-based mentoring in participating schools.

D-Men Challenge. D-Men (DePaul Males Encouraging Non-Violence) Challenge program was created in 2011 for student participants in the Male Initiative Project.

The purpose of the D-Men Challenge is to build and reinforce teamwork, camaraderie and collective responsibility among the participants by engaging them in mentally and physically challenging activities that encourage creativity, critical thinking and reflection. Students also engage in frank conversations around the intersections of race, gender, masculinity and violence as the participants experience them in their daily lives. In addition, students learn about the university and what it takes to enroll and succeed in a selective institution such as DePaul.

The D-Men Challenge is a collaborative effort involving DePaul's Men of Color Initiative within Student Affairs and the Campus Recreation Department. It is coordinated by Community Outreach within the Center for Access and Attainment. Funding for the program was initially made possible through a successful proposal to the Vincentian Endowment Fund, which was coordinated by Campus Recreation.​