On the Journey to Healthy Manhood

By Giving List Women   |   May 20, 2024
Next Gen Men’s The Rite of Passage Expeditions Project believes that boys who experience unconditional positive regard will contribute to affirming and supportive environments for others. (Photo taken by youth expedition participant, Flynn, on the French River, Ontario.)

Next Gen Men has hope for the future of masculinity. Their four founding values – curiosity, equity, courage, and empathy – fuel their mission to work towards a future where boys and men feel less pain and cause less harm. 

Next Gen Men (NGM) was founded 10 years ago, by Executive Director Jake Stika and his Co-Founders, Jermal Alleyne Jones and Jason Tan de Bibiana, after they each experienced their share of suffering, from a younger brother’s suicide to bouts of deep depression. While theirs may have been an unusual portal into “gender justice,” it allowed Next Gen Men to find its voice and goals as an organization.

Instead of “looking through a gender-based violence prevention lens – or even one promoting gender equity – we look through a lens that sees gender as a social determinant of health,” Stika says. Next Gen Men’s programs counteract the destructive messages that promote separation and suspicion of boys and men with an approach that showers love on them. “This practice, centering love for boys – and the desire to see boys thrive – is key to our work.”

A National Conversation About Gender and Masculinity

One of their flagship programs, the NGM Circles initiative, encourages publicly accessible conversations about gender and masculinity. The conversations are not conducted in academic or feminist circles, or even in men’s groups, Stika says. “The conversations are open to people of all genders so we can learn and unlearn together.” Launched in Calgary and Toronto in 2016, and expanded to five cities across Canada, NGM Circles have hosted more than 100 events with themes ranging from “Raising Feminist Children” to “Unpacking Patriarchy.” 

As 2024 began, Next Gen Men became the new publisher of the U.S.-based Voice Male magazine, inheriting its mission of chronicling the profeminist men’s movement. “In carrying on the magazine’s 40-year legacy,” Stika says, “we see its potential to become the ‘marketing arm of men in feminism.’”

Transforming Culture: From the Boardroom to the Locker Room

The young people Next Gen Men works with represent the next generation of men; Stika and staff more accurately might be called Present Gen Men. As they work to transform the culture, they recognize that men’s and boys’ health – and their gender attitudes – are formed by their community and surrounding culture.

“Too much work with men and boys follows a ‘let’s create programs for problems’ approach,” Stika notes. “The nonprofit sector removes boys and men from the settings of their culture – classrooms, boardrooms, locker rooms, pubs – and takes them through a multi-week program to measure a change in their views and beliefs. Then we release them back into ‘the wild’ and don’t see behavior change.” Why?

His answer is straightforward. “Those boys and men are products of the culture of those spaces. Until that whole culture – and society more broadly – is reconfigured, individual men’s healing will not be enough to create the change we seek.” 

Of course, it’s still worth pursuing individual men’s healing. “But,” Stika says, “there’s not enough time and resources to make that approach our ‘change vehicle.’ Instead, we must enlist the people who populate those locker rooms, boardrooms, workshops, and pubs as change agents to transform the culture.”

When society does that, Next Gen Men believes, boys will be better equipped to navigate the choppy waters of boyhood, and men will be better able to help them from being swept away in the rough currents of their approaching manhood. 


Next Gen Men

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(587) 894-7849
Executive Director: Jake Stika


Next Gen Men is a nonprofit working toward a future where boys and men experience less pain & cause less harm.

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