The Young Men’s Educational Network was started by the RESIDENTS of the North Lawndale community on Chicago’s West Side. Michael Trout and 12 young men started the organization in 1996. YMEN is an effective and dynamic youth leadership organization that was established to address academic and social needs that cripple the futures of our African American young men.
Offering 30 different programs, 7 days a week, YMEN provides year-round engagement and a sense of belonging to youth beginning in the 6 th grade and continuing through college. YMEN creates a 15- year relationship with its students, helping them successfully transition from adolescence into adulthood by creating a safe place for them to learn and making meaningful investments by caring adult mentors. During this period, YMEN promotes healthy attitudes, growth in skills and knowledge, and appropriate behaviors while effectively helping youth overcome obstacles that stand in the way of academic achievement and responsible citizenship.
Why MEN? (Get it? Y-MEN)
We often get asked, “Why do you focus mainly on male achievement?” Here is our answer: North Lawndale is the “violence capital” of Chicago; and Chicago is the most violent city in America. Ranked as the 13th most violent neighborhood in the United States, its crime rate is 500 percent higher than comparable neighborhoods in the country. In the last 4 years, there were more than 20,000 arrests of young men; and nearly 80% of the adult men have spent time in prison. With a male high school dropout rate of 67% and unemployment rate of more than 50%, nearly 90 percent of the young men who walk through YMEN’s doors are currently being raised without the presence of an active father.
The average male student in North Lawndale is three years behind in core academic subjects, misses over 17 days of school, is promoted only 78 percent of the time to the next grade level, and trails other CPS students by more than 20 percentage points in reading, math, and science on the Illinois state standardized tests. The result is that less than 3 percent of our young men make it through college.
CHANGING the NARRATIVE!
- While less than 35% of neighborhood boys graduate from high school, 88% of YMEN guys graduate.
- While less than 3% earn a bachelor’s degree, more than 35% of YMEN guys go on to
earn a bachelors degree.
- And here is the most impressive statistic, in our 20-year history of living in one of the most violent neighborhoods in one of the most violent cities, NOT ONE YOUNG MAN IN YMEN, has lost their life to violence!