Young Men United

Creating barrier-free pathways FOR young MEN in the Midlands.

Young Men United (YMU) is an evidence-informed initiative designed to create barrier-free pathways for young men to reach their academic and career goals by bringing wrap around supports to college capable high school students starting in the tenth or eleventh grade. 

YMU will guide participants through high school graduation, into and through their chosen post-secondary pathway, and support their transition from their post-secondary pathway to the workforce. 

“Young Men United gives us another pathway to create generational change throughout the Midlands. We look forward to working with school districts throughout the Midlands to provide young men with the critical support they need to build bright futures.” 

Jabari Bodrick, Ph.D., Education & Resiliency Director, United Way of the Midlands

Core Components


Major & Career Exploration

Internships & Professional Development

Family Support

Young Men United

Bridging inequity in educational attainment, income, and wealth

New to the Midlands, YMU will launch in Spring 2023. The initiative will address inequity gaps in education attainment, income and wealth by bringing supports to high school-aged students in the 10th and 11th grade to enter and succeed in college including mentorship, family financial supports to ensure their educational journey is not interrupted, civic engagement, internships, and job placement assistance. 

United Way of the Midlands will operate the program and will initially serve 75 young men scaling to 200 per year over five years. The initiative will offer new partnerships with our four Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other institutions of higher learning in the Midlands. The goal of the program is to increase post-secondary education attainment with retention and improvement in workforce development. 

Young Men United is modeled after the MKE Fellows Initiative in Milwaukee, which began as a college enrollment and internship program but has grown to a continuum of services to advance young men. The initiative has an 85% college graduation rate.

YMU image2

by the numbers3


College education is a key factor for earning potential and wealth building. The goal of YMU is to increase post-secondary education attainment for its participants with retention and improvement in workforce development by bringing wrap around supports to college capable male high school students starting in the tenth or eleventh grade. 


Despite the increased need for post-secondary education, many SC students are not graduating from high school prepared to succeed. In 2019, only 25% of SC high school graduates met college readiness benchmarks in science and only 33% of benchmarks in reading.  As jobs in STEM grow at twice the rate of other fields, addressing these disparities in the Midlands is more important than ever.




Mentorship is a key component to the program's success and will ensure students receive support and guidance from someone they can relate to and learn from throughout their YMU experience.  Mentors must apply to serve as a mentor, pass a background check, and meet with their mentee(s) at least once a month. They can be men or women. Mentors should have the following: 

  • Expertise in a YMU mentee’s career and college interests or a willingness to become familiar with the mentee’s interests
  • A commitment to expanding a mentee’s knowledge of career paths and college majors 
  • A desire to actively engage with a mentee to help him succeed in and outside of the classroom
  • A willingness to participate in YMU program evaluations and follow-ups as requested by the United Way of the Midlands staff



Do you want to help create generational change and become the leader you were born to be? Young Men United may be the ticket to help you gain the confidence, knowledge and skills you need to jumpstart your path to success. As a YMU participant, you'll create lasting bonds with knowledgeable mentors who will help guide your path through high school and higher educational avenues such as colleges, universities, trade and vocational schools and support your transition into your chosen career path.

Sound like you? Take the first step by clicking the application link below.

THANKS TO OUR YMU Founding partner!


CL logo



^ Back to Top



Jabari Bodrick, Director of Education and Resiliency
United Way of the Midlands | 1818 Blanding Street | Columbia, SC 29201

(803) 758-6982 |