DES MOINES, Iowa– This weekend local community leaders will hold the fifth annual Young Men of Color Conference virtually.
Louis Fountain, a conference organizer, said they understand the conference will be different for those who’ve attended in past years. However, they’ve been able to expand their reach by hosting an online event.
Fountain said this year the conference will have speakers from across the U.S; places such as Miami, Washington D.C, Philadelphia and other parts of the Midwest.
Workshop presenters will be a mix of educators, corporate professionals and community leaders and topics they’ll discuss include: leadership, academic achievement, financial responsibility, goal setting, emotional intelligence and obligations of citizenship.
In years past, addressing the school to prison pipeline in Iowa was a key component of the conference. According to the Sentencing Project, one out of three black men in the U.S, will go to prison in their lifetime, and one out of six Latino men. Organizers said they’re excited for the opportunity to reach youth in Polk County’s Juvenile Detention Center at this year’s conference.
“It goes back to the name: Hip Hope. I think just because a young man has been incarcerated does not mean that they shouldn’t be given hope. Actually, at this point of their life that’s when we need to step in,” Fountain said, “Just because they made a mistake, they aren’t a mistake.”
Fountain also said the goal of the conference is to help young men in Iowa find hope in a year that has presented many challenges.
“Whether they aren’t able to attend school right now, a lot of them aren’t playing sports. I mean, right now they’re looking for a positive word. So I think at this point, this is really more imperative than any time that we’ve had in the past,” Fountain said.
To learn more about how to register for the event, visit this website.