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Talking with Ian Cohen and Ben Sperling of Next Generation Men!

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Metro-Atlanta high school teachers Ian Cohen and Ben Sperling are looking to make a difference in the lives of young men by helping them to understand what it looks like and what it takes to be successful, including getting an education, taking responsibility and acting professionally. Ian, Ben and their partner Travis are currently raising money to kick off their first summer Pathways Program as part of their organization, Next Generation Men. For more on how to get involved, visit their Indiegogo crowdfunding page.

What inspires you to get out of bed every day? Our students and the hope that what we are doing is making a lasting impact on their lives.

 

What three hashtags would you use to describe yourself? #innovative #risktakers #socialbutterflies. 

What projects are you working on now? We are working on developing our organization, Next Generation Men, and specifically our summer Pathways Program, which aims to shift the paradigm around exposure and intervention programs for teenage males.

What projects would you like to be working on in 5 years? We would like to be offering programming to multiple cities around the country. Also, we hope to expand our organization to be able to expose low-income students to opportunities and support systems and their high-income peers to the societal problems and disadvantages that their low-income peers encounter.

What it is the biggest risk you’ve taken, personally or professionally, and how did it pay off? We both have decided not to return for another year of teaching…yet neither of us have jobs lined up for next year. So if bringing unemployment upon yourself is a risk, then we qualify! We hope it pays off…

Where do you go to find community? There is a small coffee shop in our neighborhood where we like to meet and work. They know our drink orders.

Where do you go to find solitude? Ben has a “man cave” in his apartment (really just a second bedroom with a couch and a TV but nicely decorated by his girlfriend). Ian goes to the coffee shop.

What is one change you would like to see in your lifetime? We would like to see diversity in ALL schools around the country. We teach in schools where almost all students come from the same background, race, economic status, etc. Being exposed to different types of people at a young age can go a long way in creating a generation where empathy and compassion are a given.

Who is your hero? We both have close members of our family who we would consider heroes of ours. However, collectively we can agree on Adam Levine—we’re both really big fans of The Voice and he’s the best Jewish coach on the show.

Rock, paper or scissors—and why? Scissors—but the type you use in elementary school with the cool edges. Read Ben and Ian's article about their Pathways Program here!

The Schusterman Philanthropic Network is proud to empower emerging leaders to explore their values, identity and new ways to strengthen their communities. We believe that as we work together to repair the world, it is important to share our diverse experiences and perspectives along the way. We encourage the expression of personal thoughts and reflections here on the Schusterman blog. Each post reflects solely the opinion of its author and does not necessarily represent the views of the Foundation, its partner organizations or all program participants.