What’s Up is a proven approach to reducing the impact of violence in the lives of adolescent LatinX and Black males living in under-resourced neighborhoods on the South and West sides of Chicago.

The program started in 2017 with a cohort of 120 high school boys in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. It is led by our Male Mentors, and provides 2-3 years of academic and social-emotional support to participants in grades 9-12. The model employs a multilevel approach including one-on-one mentoring sessions, group training, as well as parental and school community engagement.

A young man’s attitude related to his masculinity shapes his behavior, his relationships, his health, and ultimately, his ability to be a productive member of his community.


  • Increase high school retention and graduation ratesHealthy masculinity
  • Increase post-secondary education acceptance rates
  • Reduce gang involvement and prevent interaction with the criminal justice system
  • Positively change attitudes of and foster appreciation for gender equality, healthy masculinity, and health peer relationships

What's Up Graduates

SINCE 2017:

  • 100% of our seniors graduated from high school
  • 100% of those graduates were accepted into college or trade school
  • Participants began to think critically about how “being a man” is defined in their communities
  • Participants gained an understanding of and appreciation for gender equality and  peaceful conflict resolution, reporting healthier relationships with partners, peers, and parents

Looking at their own life experiences through a “gender lens” provides an understanding of how negative stereotypes of manhood can be harmful to their health and well-being and provide tools to examine the link between socially defined gender roles and violence in their daily lives.

“I learned there are more sides to being a man… when you are constantly bombarded with negative images, because that is all you see and all you know, you think that is normal, but it’s not healthy normal.”
– Program Participant

What is “What’s Up with Manhood?” Hear directly from the participants.

For more information, see the Promundo/Options for Youth Webinar on “Positive Masculinities: Experiences in the U.S.

What’s Up in the Media

Watch the WGN News – Channel 9 cover story on Toxic Masculinity,” featuring OFY’s “What’s Up with Manhood” initiative, airing Wednesday, February 21, 2018, at 9:00 pm.

Kate Thayer at the Chicago Tribune writes on Teen program combats violence by challenging macho stereotypes, highlighting the new OFY “What’s Up with Manhood?” initiative.

HBO Vice: This class teaches high school students about sexual assault and consent. The way we teach kids about consent is changing.

Univision reports on What’s Up: Male students at Little Village Academy are guided by mentors from Options for Youth as they discuss the meaning of being men. “What’s Up with Manhood” is a new initiative being piloted by Options for Youth in partnership with Promundo, supported in part by the Mayor’s Mentoring Initiative in Chicago.

There are few topics more divisive these days than the #MeToo movement. Some men feel under attack. Many women feel silenced, ignored, and powerless. Sexual harassment is nothing new, but the conversation has changed. A WGN Special on #MeToo and You: Reimagining masculinity to reverse sexual harassment

WGN Followup: “What’s Up with Manhood?” Mentoring Program

Options for Youth’s Coordinator of Male Programs, Lew Medellin appeared on WYCC’s In the Loop for a panel discussion on teen sexting called Teens,Text and Sex.

Program History: Peer Advocates for Health