About Make It Happen

Launched in 2012, Make It Happen (MIH) is an Office of Victims of Crime-funded program run in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation’s Domestic Violence department. MIH is a trauma-informed, culturally responsive program that provides mentorship, intensive case management, and clinical interventions to young men who have been overexposed to violence. We challenge our participants to think about how their definition of manhood is intertwined with trauma and gender roles. Through supportive workshops, peer mentoring, and client-driven individual and group counseling, MIH staff support participants in recognizing their trauma(s) and engaging in healing.

Make It Happen is also charged with attempting to engage traditional victim service providers on the needs of male victims of crime, with the aim of increasing access to victim services for young men of color who have been victimized, such as New York State Office of Victim Services compensation.

Participants enter MIH through group counseling sessions, through individual referrals, or through community crisis responses. Once engaged, these young men receive multifaceted services centered around MIH’s 5 Pillars: Therapeutic Services; Case Management; Mentorship; Advocacy; and Movement Building.

Apply to Make It Happen

Therapeutic Services

Individual Counseling:

Participants for whom individual therapeutic work is indicated complete a biopsychosocial assessment with a licensed mental health clinician to evaluate needs. Once those needs are identified, participants begin with weekly individualized, person-centered counseling. Since many of these young people are unfamiliar with voluntary counseling processes, and given social norms constraining emotional processing for many young men, MIH clinicians provide eclectic interventions uniquely tailored to their experiences. This includes a melding of theoretical frameworks, including psychodynamics, person-centered theory, motivational interviewing, narrative practice, and family systems theory. All of MIH’s work is informed by deep analyses of trauma responses and structural oppression; through individual counseling, we seek to offer tools towards individual and community healing to our participants, who we believe are experts in their own lives and neighborhoods.

Group Counseling:

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, abuse in the home, and neighborhood/community violence, 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 have the opportunity to transition to our specialty groups.

S.E.L.F. Group

Participants may participate in a continuation of their healing in our S.E.L.F. group, a nonlinear method for addressing very complex challenges. This model focuses on Safety, Emotions, Loss, and Future, the four fundamental domains of disruption that can occur in a person’s life.

  • Safety
  • Emotions
  • Loss and letting go
  • Future

The S.E.L.F group is designed to provide participants 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.

Case Management Services

Case management services are designed to identify immediate participant needs that can pose barriers to the clinical/healing work that would take place in group and individual sessions. MIH case management providers have extensive knowledge of appropriate and vetted community resources.

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

  • Employment Readiness / Job Training
  • Substance Misuse
  • Education and Vocational Training
  • Stable Food Access

MIH Case Management Services assist participants in best ways to navigate the following systems:

  • Court (Family, Criminal, Supreme, and Housing)
  • Child Support Enforcement (CSE)
  • Victim Services, including NYS OVS compensation
  • Child Welfare
  • Public Assistance (SNAP Benefits)
  • Medical Benefits


Make It Happen provides both intergenerational and youth-led 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.

Make It Happen CHAMPS

The MIH Community Healers And Mentors for Personal Success (CHAMPS) are young leaders who have become peer mentors after completing the Make It Happen program. The CHAMPS are trained in group facilitation and work with pre-teens and younger adolescents to engage them in conversations about healthy masculinity, healing, and trust building. Learn more about the CHAMPS from this News12 clip and their very own podcast!

Men’s Quarterly Roundtable Conversations

These intergenerational roundtables seek to help participants engage in positive help-seeking behaviors and increase their understanding of their emotional experiences. Roundtables create space for and build a positive network of men with similar lived experiences at different stages of the life cycle.

Individual Mentorship

Staff can provide one-to-one intergenerational mentorship with men who have survived interpersonal and community violence, and are thriving with healthy definitions of masculinity.


The road to healing and recovery is a long process; at times, young men may need additional support outside of the group setting. MIH staff are able to work with participants when crises take place in their lives. Young men emerging into adulthood need knowledgeable service providers in their corner to help them navigate the obstacles facing them. MIH Advocacy consists of, but is not limited to:

  • Crisis Management:


    • Support participants through interpersonal accountability processes.
    • Interface with systems alongside our participants.
    • Provide mediation and deescalation expertise when needed.
  • Court Cases:


    • Liaison with assigned court personnel.
    • Provision of letters of support, as needed.
    • Attendance at court and compliance dates.
  • Mental Health:


    • Support participants when faced with mental health emergencies.
    • Coordinate referrals for medication and/or psychiatric assessment when needed.
  • Victim Services:


    • Staff attempt to engage traditional victim service providers in increasing access to victim services for young men of color who have been victimized, including receipt of New York State Office of Victim Services compensation.

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.

Paving the Way Conference

Once a year, Make It Happen convenes victims service providers, a myriad of stakeholders, and community members to collectively dialogue on the topics of trauma and healing for young men of color with the Annual “Paving The Way to Healing and Recovery” Conference in Brooklyn, NY.

Uplifting Participant Voices

Through a range of multimedia strategies, MIH staff give program participants the chance to share their stories with a wide-ranging audience.


MIH collect quantitative research data on trauma experiences of young men of color in central Brooklyn, so as to further the movements for racial justice and healing equity.

Enlistment of Allies

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.

Media & Additional Resources

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.’

Watch News12 Brooklyn coverage of the Make It Happen program, Community Healers and Mentors for Personal Success (CHAMPS) below.

Take a look at our 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:

Shawn Deverteuil deverteuils@neighborsinaction.org


Please use this google form to make a referral, or email deverteuils@neighborsinaction.org for a pdf version.


Back to top