The Men's Leadership Project is a mentoring program that pairs UVA undergraduates with boys in local middle schools.
How does MLP work?
We combine one-on-one mentoring (while in compliance with UVA's Youth Protection Policy) with group activities that improve the boys' confidence, relationships with others, and healthy decision-making skills. MLP participants encourage each other along their own paths to becoming the boys and men they want to be.
The combined experience of our staff and student leaders with prior experience in MLP means our Big Brothers have the support they need to be effective mentors.
Who are the Big Brothers?
Big brothers are undergraduate men from any school at UVA who are interested in being a mentor and positive role model for a middle school boy. They apply during the spring semester or over the summer to become MLP Big Brothers at the start of the new school year. They commit to MLP’s weekly after-school sessions at the middle school as well as a series of fun group outings for MLP Big and Little Brothers on Grounds and around Charlottesville throughout the school year.
BE A BIG BROTHER
As a Big, you will join a group of Big and Little Brothers at a local middle school one afternoon each week for fun activities and group discussions. An MLP facilitator will be there to guide and support the group through the ups and downs that middle school brings. Your group’s facilitator will have a year or more of experience as an MLP Big, so you’ll be confident that you have a great resource right there with you each week.
Our mentoring programs synthesize theory and practice by combining coursework and work in the field. Throughout the year, your MLP experience will be enriched by the guidance of staff and support of peers. Together, the foundational knowledge gained in the classroom and the context gained from your work in the field allow you to experience the iterative, reflective approach to taking action that our engaged scholarship programs are known for.
You'll be enrolled in these classes as part of your course schedule. The course materials and discussions will help you and the other MLP Big Brothers understand developmental challenges that the MLP Little Brothers are facing so you can best support them:
- Fall: Fostering Leadership in Teenage Boys (EDHS 2889)
- Spring: Practice in Community and Youth Engagement (EDHS 2900)
You will join all of the MLP Big and Little Brothers a few times a year for group outings like service projects in the local community or special events on Grounds. Service is a great way for the Littles to build confidence by talking with new people and promoting a local cause. They take a lot of pride in being able to help others in their community. Bringing the middle school boys to UVA gives them an opportunity to explore future education and career options with your encouragement.
MORE ROLES TO FURTHER YOUR LEADERSHIP SKILLS
Students enjoy their experience with MLP so much, they often stay involved for multiple years!
BE A FACILITATOR
As facilitator, you can use your experience to help the Bigs and Littles in your group to connect with each other and get the most out of their time together. You’ll get additional training to effectively manage every part of the program from group dynamics to the curriculum itself. This opportunity is available only to students with previous experience as an MLP Big Brother.
BE AN INTERN
As an intern for MLP, you will join the Women’s Center team and work closely with the staff on recruitment efforts, annual events, and the day-to-day logistics that make the program so successful for the Bigs and Littles. Through our internship class, Front Lines of Social Change, you will expand your knowledge of effective advocacy and connect with the interns who support MLP's sister program, YWLP, and other Women's Center programs.
Mentoring in middle school - where and why?
The middle school years are the most difficult time for many students. Kids are navigating changing selves and shifting group dynamics – all while preparing to handle increased freedom paired with far greater academic and social pressures in high school. Having a mentor can help them with all of these things!
MLP staff at UVA work closely with faculty and staff at these Albemarle County schools where our mentoring groups are based:
- Burley Middle School
- Journey Middle School
Together we bring MLP Big Brothers together with compatible middle school students who have untapped leadership potential. Helping these boys see themselves as leaders helps others in their schools and families, too.
ANNUAL APPLICATION PROCESS FOR THE MEN'S LEADERSHIP PROJECT
Interested in serving as an MLP Big Brother next year? Applications for the 2023-2024 year open Dec. 12, 2022. Applications are currently being accepted on a rolling basis. Contact Genevieve Brackins for further information.