News / Insights

2021-2022 Brother Mike Award Nominees

  • Elisheba Fowlkes

“To educate as a practice of freedom” says the late bell hooks in her seminal book, Teaching to Transgress. This philosophy also informed the work of Chicago-based poet, activist, digital media educator and mentor “Brother Mike'' Hawkins, who sought to lead and teach with love. In a 2012 interview, Brother Mike said, “Mentorship, at its core, is about love.” The idea of infusing mentorship work with the edict of love is a radical testament to Brother Mike's legacy.

Annually, the Chicago Learning Exchange, Northwestern University, Chicago Public Library and SocialWorks honor the nominees and grant recipients with the Brother Mike Award, which celebrates those who dedicate their careers to teaching and mentoring Chicago youth. Please read more about the 2021-2022 Brother Mike Award Nominees below:

Alex Herrera

  • Alex is an after-school Mentor and collaborator with teens at the Hyde Park Art Center.

  • Alex partners with teen councils to organize meetings to address racial equity and develop practices for a more transparent institution.

Ayana Chavis

  • Ayana is a Senior Educator at the Art Institute of Chicago designing engaging, anti-racist and culturally relevant program for teens.

  • As coordinator of the museum internship program in the Department of Learning and Public Engagement, Ayana advocates for young people, especially interns of color, to see themselves reflected at the museum and to open the doors of professional pathways in the arts.

Calvin L. King

  • Calvin is the Executive Director of the Free Lunch Academy, a youth, workforce and community development organization.

  • Calvin has a strong commitment to character and leadership development in school and at home, especially in black and brown communities.

Edwin Gonzalez

  • Edwin encourages and inspires youth as a Digital Arts Teacher at Instituto Justice League Academy in Pilsen.

  • As a community instructor, Edwin facilitates programming for youth using videography, telling the stories of change they want to see in their communities.

Liliane Calfee

  • Liliane is Director for the Depaul/Chicago Housing Authority Youth Programs. She launched the DePaul summer youth media program for high-school aged girls in 2016.

  • Every summer for 6 weeks, Lililane teaches all the technical aspects of filming—camera, lights, sound, editing—to a cohort of about 16 participants.

Roger Franklin

  • “Coach” Roger Franklin is Lead Coach and Executive Director for Chitown Champions, a tumbling and youth leadership program.

  • Last year, three of Coach Franklin’s tumblers graduated high school with full ride scholarships for college.

Ross Berger

  • Ross has been a Librarian at the Chicago Public Library main branch for over 15 years.

  • At the YOUmedia teen space, he forges strong relationships with the teens who frequent the library, often counseling them through difficult times in their lives and providing an outlet through creative activities and programs.

Sara Heymann

  • Sara works at YOUmedia, housed in the Douglas Branch of the Chicago Public Library.

  • Through her work at YOUmedia, she curates a creative space where teens can be comfortable to be themselves. With teens, she also transformed and created a community garden next to the branch.

Susan Garcia Trieschmann

  • Susan is Executive Director for Curt’s Cafe, an open cafe, workforce training program for underserved young adults in Lake County and Cook County.

  • Curt’s Cafe's main goal is to keep young adults at-risk for imprisonment, out of prison through acquiring job skills, income, food, and life skills.

Teena Sloane-Hendricks

  • Teena is the Executive Director for Generation Z, a Media Arts and Civic Engagement Program for teens living in Chicago.

  • She is committed to increasing access for young people to the dynamic and expanding television and media industry in Chicago by partnering with media companies including BET Networks.

CLX, CPL, Northwestern, and SocialWorks are privileged to honor these nominees. We celebrate these educators who continue to embody the ideals of mentorship that Brother Mike exemplified. We know that many educators and mentors do their work not for financial gain, but to lead, inspire, and love our youth. We believe they should be honored and rewarded for their contributions.

In the coming weeks, we will announce the winner of the grant who will receive a $5,000 no-strings-attached financial support.

The Brother Mike Award is the first to highlight and champion the contributions of mentors. For more information please visit or @CLXchange.