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May 14, 2024

MAN UP Marks Milestone Anniversary with New Signature Programs and Special Celebration      


ORLANDO, Fl., May 14, 2024--- Over the last decade MAN UP Mentoring, Inc. (MAN UP) has changed the narrative of at-risk youth mentoring by reimagining an authentic approach to engaging, interacting, and valuing vulnerable youth and their families. This summer the community-based organization will begin celebrating its milestone anniversary.


As a new era dawns, they will focus on three key areas of mentorship: career readiness, mental health, and food stability. The continued success of the organization is owed in part to their commitment to exploring innovative ideas and new paths, continuously listening to the young people they mentor, and having a servant’s heart.


Passing the Baton…

“Man Up (Male Youth Ministry), under my leadership would not have been successful without Chris,” shared Thomas Brown, Pastor Emeritus of Redeeming Light Center Church, Eatonville, FL.


“After announcing my plans of retiring from pastoral ministry, I had no intentions of continuing Man Up. I was glad and relieved when Chris Wallace approached me about starting MAN UP. I had already groomed him to be my successor, so this was ideal.”

Brown went on to share, how grateful he was, “to see how the Lord brought a brother and sister together to take Man Up to a level I never imagined.”


But little did the brother and sister duo know what the journey ahead would entail or require.


Changing the Narrative…

Since its inception in 2014, MAN UP has supported over 1,200 youth and nearly 300 families, while serving six schools within the Orlando area.


The Orlando-based nonprofit is dedicated to empowering at-risk youth through mentorship programs, educational support, and linkage to social services. With an organizational motto, penned by Frederick Douglass, “It is easier to empower youth; than to repair broken men,” the organization aims to equip youth with the necessary tools to transform the trajectory of their future and the social fabric of their communities.


“It is our goal to introduce our mentees to the best version of themselves, offer them love, support, and hope, while igniting their vision,” said Wallace, the Co-founder of MAN UP and the heartbeat of the organization.


MAN UP’s Impact to date:

  • On average, youth participate in MAN UP’s program for five years.

  • 100% of youth participants graduate high school

  • Nearly 50% pursue post-secondary opportunities

  • 96% of youth do not offend or reoffend in the Juvenile Justice System.

Looking Ahead…


The MAN UP CEO Program

In the Spring of 2024, MAN UP officially launched its new signature program, The MAN UP CEO Program (MUCP) an incentive-based program that offers a career-readiness experience lasting 9-months for youth ages 11-21. During the 9-months mentees will shadow entrepreneurs and professionals from the local community who will expose them to various career pathways. The program includes employment preparation, project-based literacy tutoring, career exploration, job shadowing, life skills, mentorship, financial literacy, and linkage to social services.


MUCP builds upon the encouraging results of its 2023 Pilot Program funded in part by Orange County’s 2023 Children’s Citizen Commission (CCC) Mini Grant, PepsiCo and Universal Orlando Foundations. Sixty-three percent of the organization’s mentees successfully graduated from the pilot program. On average, the student participants improved their reading by one-half of a grade level.  All of the mentees demonstrated measurable progress in their knowledge of financial literacy, as well as measurable progress in the areas of 21st century career readiness and entrepreneurial skills.



At the beginning of the 2024-25 academic schoolyear, MAN UP will launch The MAN UP GRACE Project (MUGP), a pilot virtual reality (VR) program funded by AdventHealth’s Community Impact Grant to provide mental health services to students residing in Northwest Orlando.


Working with an Atlanta-based Augment Reality Firm, Brain Rain Solutions, the organization’s mentees will help develop cutting-edge technology, as well as serve as the end-users. Student participants will be immersed in a digital world, coupled with the use of traditional therapy to encourage healthy stress and anxiety management.

VR programming will allow them to choose from several apps and videos that fully immerse them in a digital yet calming oasis.


Washington Shores Community Garden

Planting the Washington Shores Community Garden (WSCG) in 2014, was the first at-risk youth mentoring initiative for the community-based organization.  MAN UP partnered with Eckerd Connects’ HBI Project Bridge to mentor youth ages 11-21 who were reintegrating to their home communities from juvenile justice residential commitment programs. By working in the garden, youth learned about agriculture, how to install irrigation systems, life skills and teamwork. Most importantly, they were introduced to the dynamics of a stable family.


Continuing the legacy of long time Washington Shores Resident Mr. Ed, today, the WSCG Revitalization Project is under the guidance of Dr. Andre Baptiste, a well-known local orthodontist, also known as Andre the Farmer, along with the support of the Washington Shores Presbyterian Church (WSPC), and Washington Shores Elementary School (WSES).


This urban oasis green space not only is being revitalized to beautify the historical African American neighborhood, but it will serve as a food forest providing opportunities for education, recreation, intergenerational connection and sustainable food production for students, seniors and residents alike.


Celebrating the 10th Anniversary…

In celebration of the organization’s 10th Anniversary, MAN UP will host their Second Triennial Awards Ceremony on Saturday, September 21st, 2024, at 6p.m. at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Downtown, paying homage to the Harlem Renaissance. The soiree will revive the elegance and swing of the legendary Harlem 1920s social club. An Evening at the Cotton Club will be hailed as one of Orlando’s signature galas and premier social events of 2024.


Stay tuned, there will be more surprises throughout the 10th anniversary year. For more information on MAN UP’s impact, visit Join the movement by following MAN UP on Instagram @manupmentoring and Like Us on Facebook.


Here is a look back at milestone moments in the community-based organization’s 10-year history:



  • Launch The MAN UP GRACE Project Immersive Mental Health Pilot Program funded by AdventHealth’s Community Impact Grant.

  • Resumed the Girls Mentoring Program (Girls UP) at Ivey Lane Park Recreation Center, under a new name Girls UP and the leadership of a new Program Director and former MAN UP Mentor, Nadya Stevens.


  • Launched new interactive web site

  • Awarded $100K from AdventHealth’s Community Impact Grant for cutting-edge mental health VR Pilot Program

  • Launched MAN UP CEO Youth Entrepreneurship, Career Readiness & Workforce Development Pilot Program funded in part by Orange County CRP Mini Grant, PepsiCo Foundation, and Universal Orlando Foundation

  • Located program to new site, Ivey Lane Park Recreation Center.


  • Invited to attend the 2022 PeaceJam Global Youth Summit and PeaceJam’s Leadership Retreat in Panajachel, Guatemala.

  • Hired a full-time Executive Director

  • Awarded first six-figure grant, MBK Orlando, totaling $300K


  • In January MAN UP headed to Capitol Hill to represent Pine Hills Youth.  The organization was selected to present their Newest Curriculum, “Through Their Eyes,” a Photovoice Project at the 10th Annual MENTOR Summit in Washinton D.C. along with New Your Times published journalist Renata Sago.


  • Expanded to Eccleston Elementary, served 4th and 5th grade male students at-risk for dropping out of school.

  • Hosted the Inaugural Breakfast w/ Kings & Queens at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through an integrated career planning and keynote activity, that culminated with a Youth Town Hall.


  • Hosted MAN UP n’ Cook, an inaugural Father’s Day Cook-off held at the Central Florida Fairgrounds aimed to expose vulnerable youth to a wealth of resources and positive male role models, where food was the feature and mentorship was the focus.


  • Entered partnership with the Orlando Housing Authority to launch MAN UP n’ Empower, became an in-kind partner of HUD launched the pilot mentoring program in Ivey Lane Homes,


  • Partnered with Eckerd Connects/HBI Project Bridge to serve at-risk youth re-entering society and in need of life skills, mentorship and community service hours. Home Depot Millenia and Washington Shores Presbyterian Church were also key community partners.

  • The Washington Shores Community Garden was planted with the support of City Commissioner Samuel B. Ings of District 6

  • Became incorporated as MAN UP Mentoring, Inc., a 501c3 on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2014.

Early 2000’s

  • Man Up Mentoring Ministry for male youth, started at Redeeming Light Center Church, Eatonville, FL, under the leadership of Pastor Thomas Brown and his mentor Chris Wallace.


ABOUT MAN UP Mentoring, Inc:


MANUP Mentoring, Inc. is community-based non-profit 501c (3) charity organization primarily serving at-risk youth ages 11 through completion of high school or the equivalent across Metro Orlando, with a focus on delinquency prevention and intervention by providing social, educational, and mentoring services. Established in 2014 by Orlando natives, brother and sister duo Christopher and Samantha Wallace. Currently, it is managed by an Executive Director, contractors and a full-time staff of volunteers. It is overseen by a Board of Directors with more than 150 years of law enforcement and civilian experience, as well as advisors from the Orange County Public School System and social services.

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