Texas shield logo

Project MALES Summer Academy Focuses on Middle School Students

DDCE’s Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) hosted its inaugural Summer Academy on June 15-17. The three-day academy was open to young men from four Austin ISD middle schools (Garcia, Martin, Mendez and Webb). It featured workshops and sessions that focused on building leadership skills, communication skills and creative activities. The first two days were held at Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy and the third day was held on the campus of UT-Austin.

photo of boy reading
Eleven-year-old Daniel reads a poem he wrote during Summer Academy.

Project MALES director Dr. Emmet Campos explains, “If you’re a parent or teacher, you’re probably familiar with the dreaded ‘summer brain drain.’ Decades of research confirm that summer learning loss is a real phenomenon, particularly for low-income students.”

The Summer Academy is just one way Project MALES is helping address challenges young men of color in Austin face. Besides providing enrichment activities to address the summer ‘brain drain’, goals include providing mentoring and building on the cultural assets of these young men to address these challenges to keep them on path to graduate middle school and high school.

Instructors included Manuel Villanueva from Austin/Travis Co. Work Based Learning and Summer Youth Employment; Rodgerick Bradley, AISD; Sarah Rafael Garcia, founder of Barrio Writers; Dr. Lilia Rosas, Resistencia Bookstore; and Roxanne Schroeder-Arce, UT-Austin assistant professor of theatre.  While on campus at UT, students were able to tour campus and the Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium.

photo of two students
Sharing, physical movement and vocal warm-up were all part of a performance session.


group of students
Summer Academy students and mentors pose in front of Cesar Chavez statue on UT Austin campus.