News / Grantmaking Opportunities + Updates

2021 Brother Mike Award: Application Announcement

  • CLX Staff

Who was Brother Mike?

Mike Hawkins, better known as Brother Mike, was a Chicago-based poet, activist, digital media educator, revolutionary, and mentor. He was a loving partner, coordinator for Digital Youth Network (DYN), mentor to hundreds of youth, member of the Chicago Learning Exchange, and a cornerstone of two of the most innovative and popular teen spaces in Chicago—YOUmedia Center at the Harold Washington Public Library and MetaMedia in Evanston

Although he always encouraged youth to shine bright, he was remarkable and notable in his own right. His mentorship was not traditional—it was transformational because it was rooted in the belief that in order to teach someone, you must love them. Some of his former mentees, now well-established figures in their own right, like Chance the Rapper, NoName, and countless others like Katie Klema, credit Brother Mike for transforming their lives. He taught young people because he believed in them and instilled in them that they had the power, responsibility, and ability to shape the world. And, they have indeed gone on to shape the world and make it a better place as artists, activists, and educators.

The Brother Mike Award

With support from SocialWorks, the Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX), and Digital Youth Network (DYN), the annual award will honor and recognize an outstanding out-of-school time “connected mentor” with $5,000 no-strings-attached financial support. By celebrating those educators who continue to embody the ideals of mentorship that Brother Mike exemplified, we hope to inspire and ignite more leaders whose everyday work changes lives and honors the life of the quintessential mentor, Brother Mike. 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.


  • Current out-of-school time educators within the Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX) organizations and community.
  • Must serve Chicago youth ages 11-18.
  • Mentors who work directly with youth and have been in the field for 5+ years within a youth-serving organization or institution.
  • Candidates must also demonstrate a practice of connected learning—a framework that connects youth interests with mentorship and connection to additional opportunities.

Step 1: Preview Nomination Questions

Step 2: Review Frequently Asked Questions

Step 3: Submit a Nomination

Youth Video Submission Instructions