The Michael Project
The Michael Project is a program for college students that aims to reduce the social stigma and financial barriers of taking a semester off from the traditional college experience.
We celebrate students who seek to experience college differently.
The Michael Project is a program for college students that provides mentorship and financial support for a semester off from the traditional college experience.
The goal of the Michael Project is to support students in undertaking an alternative semester, such that they return to school with a new perspective, a renewed sense of purpose, a healthier mindset, and a spirit of generosity and empathy for other members of the community at large. To accomplish this goal, students are paired with mentors during the semester who help advise and provide perspective and support throughout the project.
The Michael Project welcomes student initatives that range from working in a restaurant or a nonprofit, to building a startup, to recording a music album, to learning a new skill, to conducting research, to caring for a family member. Emphasis is placed not on what the student does, but why the student wants to take the semester to do it.
The Michael Project celebrates students who seek to experience college differently.
Civil & Commercial
how it works
Students, working with their school and the Michael Project, identify why they want to take the semester off and options for what they want to do during the semester
With funding from the Michael Project, the student spends the semester away from school working on a ‘project’ that ranges from taking care of a family member, working as an intern, or building a start-up
The student is matched with a mentor who helps support the student throughout the semester off and beyond, offering advice, touchpoints, and reflection
Student builds a community with other MP students both during the semester and back at school. Student brings experiences and perspective back to the school community and the MP alumni network
What We're Accomplishing
College students are increasingly facing pressure – pressure from society, pressure from their peers, and pressure from themselves – to achieve more, conform to what is expected, and follow the prescribed path to success. Suicide rates at universities are increasing and anxiety and depression are becoming more and more prevalent across campuses.
For many students, spending time away from their college program is financially impossible and traditionally discouraged.
With The Michael Project we’re aiming to:
- Reduce the financial barrier to and stigma of taking time off
- Increase mental well-being in the lives of college students
- Promote creative, entrepreneurial, personal, and transformational experiences that may not occur in the traditional college structure
- Emphasize that learning outside of the traditional structure of a university program is important, impactful, and often necessary and critical
- Disrupt the way higher education institutions think about the traditional college structure
- Celebrate non-conformity and alternative pathways for young people
"The Michael Project gave me chance to prioritize my wellbeing and explore new passions. I don’t think I would have gotten my dream job without the support I received from the Michael Project."
The Michael Project was started in honor of Michael Pacheco, our brother, son, friend, magician, entrepreneur, mechanic, hobby collector, and all-around inspiration for living life in a genuine way. Michael charted his own path, including taking time off from college, first to recover from a behavioral health episode his freshman year; second, as a junior, to explore the start-up life in New York. Michael was always learning and always teaching those around him.
Through Michael, and his experiences, we learned how hard it is to take time away from the traditional path, and how "what you do" doesn't define "who you are", the impact you make, and the people you can touch through your life.
In seeking to honor Michael and his life, we wanted to help students who face struggles similar to Michael, and celebrate the different paths we all take through life.
The Michael Project is a 501(c)3 organization. All donations are tax-deductible.