News / Grantmaking Opportunities + Updates

Brother Mike Award: 2020 Launch

  • CLX Staff

Connected Mentor Award will provide a $5,000 reward in honor of Brother Mike Hawkins

Supported by SocialWorks

CHICAGO — Chicago youth are still in the streets screaming, “Revolution. Power to the People. Black Lives Matter.” The lesser-known story in the movement for Black Lives is the role of mentors. Specifically, the iconic powerhouse mentor, the late Brother Mike Hawkins.

Chicago youth, like @AquaVitae, credit their civic consciousness and engagement to CLX’s out-of-school time (OST) organizations and mentors like Brother Mike.

The Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX) and Digital Youth Network (DYN) have teamed up with SocialWorks, a non-profit organization founded by 3x Grammy Award-winning artist Chance the Rapper, to create an award to honor OST mentors.

In honor of Chance’s mentor Mike Hawkins better known as Brother Mike, the Brother Mike Award is an annual $5,000 award aimed to recognize one outstanding mentor with a no-strings-attached resource.

In 2019, Phenom received the $5,000 Brother Mike Award for his work with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) and other youth-serving organizations such as his own nonprofit, EMCEESKOOL.

Even though OST leaders, often Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) individuals themselves, continue to support youth academically, socio-emotionally, culturally, and politically, they themselves lack the support they need.

Many educators and mentors do their work, not for financial gain, but to lead, inspire, and love youth.

“Mentors like Brother Mike are essential; they provide guidance, an ear to listen, and give one the courage to see the brilliance inside and act on it. A brilliance that can’t always shine in conventional settings. We’re proud to support the Brother Mike award, advocating for mentor and student success in all its forms”, Justin Cunningham and Essence Smith, SocialWorks co-founders.

By celebrating an educator who continues to embody the ideals of mentorship that Brother Mike exemplified, the group hopes to inspire and ignite more leaders whose everyday work changes lives and honors the life of the quintessential mentor, Brother Mike.

Brother Mike believed “learning is a lifestyle.”CLX is accepting nominations for the Brother Mike Award. The application opens Monday, September 28 and closes Monday, November 2, 2020. To learn more about the award and eligibility, visit

Brother Mike shared his light, rhymes, love of young people, and reminded us to bring power to the people. His impact and baton live on through many and now formally through the Brother Mike Award.

Join the efforts via social media by including the hashtag: #BrotherMikeAward #BrotherMike

About Brother Mike

The late Brother Mike was a Chicago-based poet, activist, digital media educator, revolutionary, and mentor. He was a loving partner, coordinator for DYN, member of the CLX network, and the 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. There, he mentored hundreds of youth from middle-school to high-school and beyond

About the Chicago Learning Exchange

Chicago Learning Exchange (CLX) is a nonprofit organization that cultivates a growing community of more than 200 organizations to remake learning so that it is driven by learners’ interests, enhanced by technology, and connected to opportunities. For more information specifically on the Chicago Learning Exchange, visit or follow CLX on Twitter (@CLXchange), Facebook (@CLXchange), LinkedIn, and Instagram (@CLXchange).

About the Digital Youth Network

Digital Youth Network (DYN) designs learning systems aiming to ensure that all youth, especially the underserved, cultivate the critical skills, literacies and agency necessary to have the opportunity to create lives that are engaged, empowered and successful. Established in 2005 on the south side of Chicago, DYN has supported tens of thousands of young people across the city create pathways around their passions. For over a decade, DYN has established itself not only as a critical resource to the city of Chicago but has also established new frameworks for engaging young people that have been replicated nationally in over 20 cities. For more information on Digital Youth Network, visit or follow DYN on social media @ExploreChi.

About SocialWorks

SocialWorks, founded by Grammy-award-winning musician and humanitarian Chance the Rapper, aims to empower the youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement. Since 2016, SocialWorks has created 5 initiatives that present youth the opportunity to learn and act on their passions. SocialWorks' programming focuses on education, mental wellness, homelessness, and performing and literary arts - directly affecting thousands of youth yearly. Through their initiatives, OpenMike, Warmest Winter, Kids of the Kingdom, The New Chance: Arts & Literature Fund, and My State of Mind, SocialWorks hopes to inspire creativity, build dreams, and advocate for youth success in all its forms. To follow SocialWorks on social media, visit us on Twitter (@SocialWorks), Facebook (@SocialWorksChi), and Instagram (@SocialWorks_Chi).