Make It Happen is an OVC (Office of Victims of Crime) funded program run in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation’s Domestic Violence department. Its mission is to give young men between the ages of 16 and 24 who have experienced violence the tools necessary to overcome traumatic experiences, and enable them to succeed in spite of those experiences.


About Make It Happen

Make It Happen is a trauma-informed and culturally competent program that provides mentorship, intensive case management, clinical interventions and supportive workshops. We challenge our participants to think about how their definition of manhood is intertwined in trauma and gender roles.  Through group workshops and client driven individual sessions, our clients are able to recognize and process their own trauma.

Make It Happen is also charged with attempting to engage traditional victim service providers on the needs of male crime victims. The purpose of this is to make victim services compensation available to young men of color who have been victims of crime.

Participants meet with the Director of Trauma Support Services for one-on-one sessions prior to joining a 10 week workshop cohort. The purpose of this is to build rapport and trust with participants and to gain a sense of their individual needs regarding their trauma history. During individual sessions, participants receive guidance and assistance catered to their immediate needs.

During group workshops, the purpose is to challenge participants to explore what healthy black masculinity means to them and society at large. Each cohort also has an opportunity for team-building activities to create a sense of camaraderie among the group in hopes that those connections continue as they move forward in their lives.

Apply to Make It Happen.

Paving the Way Convening

Once a year, Make It Happen convenes victims service providers and other service providers to engage in discussion on the topic of trauma and healing for young men of color with the Annual “Paving The Way to Healing and Recovery” Convening in Brooklyn, NY.



Make It Happen Services

Individual Therapy:

Clients complete a psychosocial with licensed mental health clinician to evaluate needs. Once those needs are identified, clients begin with weekly individual therapy with a psychodynamic, eclectic clinician to engage male participants in therapy. Clinician must have the ability to work with clients who struggle to identify their own experiences of victimization, due to societal expectations of their struggles. Clinician provides individual interventions in non-traditional settings. Individual intervention is similar to interventions such as ACT Team and ICM (Intensive Case Management).

The trauma informed approach through individual therapy will be centered around a “person centered response focused on improving individuals all around wellness.” It is the firm belief within the program that the client is the expert in their lives, not the clinician

Group Therapy:

Masculinity and Trauma Group

Participants will participate in a 10 week group on topics such as healthy masculinity and trauma history. Through topics, such as understanding PTSD, violence in the home and community, participants will have an opportunity to learn about their own experiences with trauma. At the completion of the 10 week masculinity and trauma group, participants will transition to our specialty groups.

S.E.L.F. Group

Trauma group where participants continue their healing using the S.E.L.F. framework:

  • Safety
  • Emotions
  • Loss and letting go
  • Future

S.E.L.F. is not a staged treatment model, but rather a nonlinear method for addressing in simple words, very complex challenges. The four concepts: Safety, Emotions, Loss and Future represent the four fundamental domains of disruption that can occur in a person’s life and within these four domains, any problem can be categorized. Naming and categorization are the first steps in making a problem manageable.

The S.E.L.F group is designed to provide clients and staff with an easy to use and coherent framework that can create a change momentum. Because it is a model that is “round” not square, circular, not stepped, it provides a logical framework for movement.

As the S.E.L.F group transitions, clients will have the opportunity to facilitate groups amongst themselves which will transition to other specialty groups.

Case Management Services

Case management services are designed to identify immediate client needs that can pose barriers to clinical/healing work that would take place in group and individual sessions. Make It Happen case management services has extensive knowledge of appropriate community resources that have been vetted by the Make It Happen program.

Case Management Services establishes community partnerships to streamline referrals for MIH participants to various programs, such as medical, mental health, housing and other basic needs. Make It Happen clients are referred to the following programs:

  • Job Readiness/ Job Training
  • Substance Abuse
  • Housing
  • HSE (High School Equivalency)
  • Food Pantry

Make It Happen Case Management Services assist clients in best ways to navigate the following systems:

  • Court (Family, Criminal, Supreme and Housing)
  • Child Support Enforcement (CSE)
  • Victim’s Services
  • Child Welfare
  • Public Assistance (SNAP Benefits)
  • Medical Benefits

Peer Services

Make It Happen provides both intergenerational and youth-only peer services designed to give young men of color the opportunities to share space and engage in thought-provoking discussions on current events, toxic masculinity, and other relevant issues.

Men’s Quarterly Roundtable Conversations

These intergenerational roundtables seek to help participants engage in more positive help seeking behaviors and increase their understanding of their emotional experience. Roundtables achieve this by creating creating space and building a positive network of men with similar lived experiences but at different stages of the life cycle.


 The Make It Happen Community Healers and Mentors for Personal Success (C.H.A.M.P.S.) are young leaders who have become peer mentors after completing the Make It Happen program. The C.H.A.M.P.S. are trained in group facilitation and work with mainly with middle school students to help them engage with the topics of healthy masculinity, healing and trust building.


The road to healing and recovery is a long process and at times, clients may need additional support outside of the group setting. Make It Happen staff are able to work with clients when crises takes place in their lives. Clients need knowledgeable service providers in their corner to help them navigate the obstacles they face. Make It Happen Advocacy consists of the following:

  • Court Cases:
    • Liaison with attorney and social workers assigned
    • Provide letters of support as needed.
    • Attend Court dates and other tasks if necessary.
  • Mental Health:
    • Support clients when faced with mental health emergencies
      • Refer out to assess for medication, evaluation as needed.
  • Housing:
    • Connect clients facing housing instability with emergency housing
      • Communicate with DHS case managers assigned to client and ensure they are getting the services they need.
      • Assist clients with pap

*The advocacy/mentoring portion of MIH is focused on service provider accountability.


Clinicians and Case Manager do outreach to recruit and evaluate clients for the program.

Staff communicate with traditional victim service providers to encourage and challenge them to think about their capacity to provide appropriate services to young men of color.  These efforts seek to make victim services compensation available to young men of color who have been victims of crime.


Building a Healing Movement

Make It Happen produces research and toolkits, and presents lessons learned through the program at conferences in order to share knowledge and transform the field of victim services.


To learn more about the Make It Happen program, view this fact sheet: Addressing Trauma in Violence Interrupter Programs or listen to Make It Happen staff and participants describe about the program and their approach below on CCI’s podcast, ‘New Thinking.’


Take a look at our new toolkit, “Responding  to Trauma Among Young Men of Color: Adapting the Crown Heights Approach for Your Community”, to find information and insight for violence interrupter programs and traditional victim services providers.

Vicarious Trauma Toolkit from the National Center for Victims of Crime for violence interrupter programs and traditional victim service agencies.

Watch Program Director Kenton Kirby at DOJ webinar Supporting Young Male Survivors of Violence.

Check out the Make It Happen program featured in the NPR article, A New Approach To Helping Men Of Color Heal After A Violent Incident.


2017 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Theme Video


Conferences and Presentations

  • National Organization of Forensic Social Work – Boston, MA – “Addressing Trauma Among Young Men of Color in a Violence Interrupter Program in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.” (July, 27, 2018).
  • 5th Annual Healing the Hurt Conference – New York, NY – “Engaging Young Men of Color in Leadership and Mentorship” (June 20, 2018).
  • 5th Annual Community Youth Symposium – Brooklyn, NY – “Intersection between Violence and Masculinity.” (June 16, 2018).
  • 5th Annual Community Youth Symposium – Brooklyn, NY –  “The Impact of Social Media and Scamming.”  (June 16, 2018)
  • Practicing Law Institute – New York, NY – “Why Trauma Matters to Judges and Lawyers.” (May 16, 2018).
  • Community Courts and Public Safety Conference – Birmingham, AL – “What’s New in Promoting Behavioral Health.” (May 9, 2018).
  • 4th Annual Paving the Way Conference: Channeling Resilience for Young Men of Color – Brookyln, NY – “Finding Healing Through Peer Mentorship.” (April 20, 2018).
  • VOCA National Conference – Washington, DC – “Supporting Male Survivors of Violence.” (August 16, 2017).
  • National Organization of Forensic Social Workers – Boston, MA – “Addressing Trauma Among Young Men of Color in a Violence Interrupter Program in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.” (July 28, 2017).
  • OVSJG Trauma Training Institute – Washington, DC – “Addressing Trauma Among Young Men of Color.” (July 12, 2017).
  • 4th Annual Community Youth Symposium – Brooklyn, NY –  “Understanding Trauma” and “Violence and Trauma Reactions.” (June 17, 2017).
  • Puerto Rican Family Institute – New York, NY – Boys Empowerment. (April 13, 2017).
  • 23rd Annual International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference – San Diego, CA – “Partnerships to Build Trust with Male Victims of Color.” (October 17, 2016).
  • Healing Justice Alliance Annual Conference – Baltimore, MD – “Incorporating Trauma Informed Practice in a Violence Interrupter Program.” (August 23, 2016).
  • 124th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association – Denver, CO – “Forensic Practice with Vulnerable Populations.” (August 7, 2016).
  • Paving the Way to Healing and Recovery: Conversations with Young Men of Color Who Survive Violence – Brooklyn, NY – “Make It Happen: Perspectives from Young Men of Color on a Trauma-Informed Group.” (April 25, 2016).
  • Vision 21 Talks: Engaging with Experts on Trending Topics (Webinar) – Supporting Male Survivors of Violence.
  • Beyond Innocence New York, NY – Toward a Framework for Serving All Crime Survivors (October 8, 2015).
  • DYCD Healing the Hurt Conference – New York, NY – “Addressing Trauma Among Young Men of Color in a Violence Interrupter Program.” (June 5, 2015).
  • 30th Annual Preventing Crime in the Black Community – Tampa, FL – “Serving Male Victims of Color.” (May 27, 2015).
  • 32nd Annual International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation – Orlando, FL – “Clinical Interventions for Young Men of Color Impacted by Community Violence.” (April 18, 2015).
  • 2014 NNHVIP Conference – Philadelphia, PA – “Addressing Trauma Among Young Men of Color in a Violence Interrupter Program in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.” (September 8, 2014).
  • 29th Annual Preventing Crime in the Black Community – Jacksonville, FL – “Serving Male Victims of Color.” (May 30, 2014).


For more information, contact
Kenton Kirby
Shawn Deverteuil