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Alex Herrera awarded 2021 Brother Mike Award by Grammy-Award-Winner Chance the Rapper.

  • Elisheba Fowlkes

On March 12, the Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX), Chicago Public Library, Digital Youth Network at Northwestern University, and SocialWorks came together to celebrate the important role of Out-of-School-Time mentors through the annual Brother Mike Award Ceremony.

The ceremony was held at the Harold Washington Library Center and while St. Patrick's Day revelers tried to keep warm outside, over 100 attendees gathered inside Cindy Pritzker Auditorium to experience the warm and generous spirit of “Brother Mike” Hawkins.

With a full program of remarks including moving testimonies by this year's nominees and an emotional speech by Grammy-award-winning musician and humanitarian, Chance the Rapper, the impact and influence of Brother Mike was clear to everyone in attendance.

As the city transitions from a time of great upheaval from the pandemic to racial reckoning and turbulence to “the year of healing”, CLX recognizes the need for OST mentors to be celebrated and rewarded for their commitment and dedication to youth development. The Brother Mike Award, the first to highlight and champion the contributions of mentors, is an annual $5,000 no-strings-attached resource given to an OST mentor, in honor of Chance the Rapper’s mentor Mike Hawkins, better known as “Brother Mike”.

Alex Herrera, Teen Programs Manager at the Hyde Park Art Center, is this year’s winner and recipient of the 2021 Brother Mike Award. Chance the Rapper spoke as he handed over the BMA sculpture to Alex: “As Brother Mike says, we can turn moments into movements, which is exactly what this year’s winner Alex Herrera did at the Hyde Park Art Center.” Alex Herrera is the third winner of the Brother Mike Award, preceded by Elizabeth “Liz” Reyes in 2020 and Phenom, the first recipient in 2019.

The ceremony, the first in-person event for CLX since the pandemic began, was covered by a host of Chicago-based media outlets, including WGN, Rolling Out and Hyde Park Herald. More details and interviews from the night can be found in the article, “Hyde Park Art Center’s Alex Herrera wins Brother Mike Award” written by Tonia Hill from the TRiiBE.