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Manu Lewis was born 1970 in North Minneapolis as the only child yet moved to Atlanta at the age of 4, raised by his mother and step-father. By the 9th grade, Manu attended 10 different schools in the Atlanta and Las Vegas area. In 2004 Manu moved back to Minneapolis in hopes of getting his life on a better track yet found himself falling back into criminal activities that landed him in jail with another felony. ​

On his 40th birthday, Manu’s younger cousin who was caught up in the same street lifestyle as he was murdered. A light came on inside of Manu that forced a decision to change or continue living a life of crime & prison or death. Manu took the second chance Minnesota offered him and began participating in the Correctional Transitional Systems Incorporated (CTSI) Program. The CTSI program took Manu through a process of exploring his past, thought process, associations and his potential to be a better person. Manu graduated from CTSI and remains engaged in mentoring other men through the program as an alumnus while keeping himself busy and focused. Later being introduced to the Criminals & Gangmembers Anonymous program, Manu began to facilitate weekly lifestyle recovery sessions for the next 5yrs supporting men who were transitioning out of the CTSI program. ​

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The Crossover: Manu devoted his life to becoming an engaged and healthy father, son, and productive community member. Manu spent his time and studies learning more about lifestyle additions and soon after landed his first long-term career position at the Neighborhood Hub where he worked for 5 yrs as a Resource Navigator engaging with the community around livability and sustainability issues and providing direct services and life skills support. This was his first opportunity to work in the community and give back. Manu participated in multiple personal and professional development training, community meetings, networking venues and volunteered at multiple places that helped build on his knowledge, skills, and relationships within the community. 10 yrs strong Manu continues to be engaged in the community, lifestyle recovery and restorative justice efforts and has been recognized for his outstanding leadership, commitment, impact and volunteerism in the community. Manu recently was employed as a facilitator and case manager for the African American Men’s Project ( AAMP) at NorthPoint Health & Wellness as well as works as a case manager for participants in the Group Violence Intervention program funded by the Department of Health to prevent gun violence in Minneapolis. The work on this particular initiative resulted in an Award by the United States Attorney’s office for Excellence in the Pursuit of Justice by reducing the gun violence in Minneapolis for two years straight. In his new role as The Community Nutrition Educator for the University of Minnesota, he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience with the focus is on the African American Community.

Currently, Manu is undertaking a research approach to creating pathways for individuals with backgrounds to engage in a more sustainable transition back into their respective communities, reduce recidivism, and increase employee retention within the felony population. Currently working within a 6-month Voqal fellowship, Manu has begun speaking to Recovery clients and youth professionals on choices and critical thinking.