You've probably never even heard of the Mecklenburg County Health Department's Male Involvement Program. That's because MIP operates mostly under the radar. Program director Keith Cradle has been with the program since its induction seven years ago when it won the 2001 NACO award for outstanding program of the year in the state of North Carolina.
"Coming out of [Johnson C. Smith University], I knew I wanted to do communications. We had an entertainment show where we interviewed people who came to town. Time Warner liked it and wanted to do a video show and this was like 1996, '97. The name of it was Video Lockdown. It didn't fulfill me. That wasn't my calling."
"When I got out of the entertainment stuff, I was out of work for a year and I was kinda searching ... thinking ... 'What do you really wanna to do?' and a good friend of mine who's passed away worked at the Y[MCA]. He said, 'Hey, look, I got this job if you wanna work it, working with teens.' It turned into what I was supposed to do."
"When they say 'Male Involvement' what it really means is a socialization assimilation program that helps young men, whatever age range, deal with fatherhood, society, jobs. So, we work with all the young men that are in those jails, that are coming out, getting them ready for life after."
What's next for Cradle? Starting a non-profit with Power 98 personality Tone X and getting his Masters in Business Administration from UNCC.