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Empowering Columbus’ African American Youth

Councilmember Shannon Hardin and the City of Columbus Host EMPOWERED, MENTALLY STRONG AND SUCCESSFUL, the My Brother’s Keeper Conference to Empower Young Men ages 14-19

[COLUMBUS-OH]  Iron sharpens iron, a common saying in the urban community, is resonating within the leaders of City Hall. Its echo has been transformed into measurable action as the City of Columbus Department of Neighborhoods launches the My Brother’s Keeper Empowerment Conference, Mentally Strong and Successful on October 21, at Franklin University Alumni Hall, 301 E. Rich St., Columbus 43215, from 8-3pm.

Register for the conference online at

The conference will focus on leadership, mental health and behavioral awareness. It is the second large-scale event focused on African American males in the City of Columbus this year.

“Our goal is to provide valuable information and a space for open dialogue and an exchange of ideas with other African American men," said Councilmember Shannon Hardin.

On Saturday, at 8am, students, government officials, police officers, non-profit and private sector service providers will gather on the campus of Franklin University for a day about the opportunities and skills needed for young boys and men of color.

The focus is Columbus' My Brother's Keeper (MBK) Initiative and its goals.

“This conference serves as a follow up to the My Brother’s Keeper Summit that we held in May of this year,” said Department of Neighborhoods Director Carla Williams-Scott. “We want to hear from our young men and work with our service providers to ensure that we are addressing their concerns.”

The MBK Initiative began in 2014 when President Barack Obama rallied a call to action to support and uplift young boys and men of color.

In 2016, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and Councilmember Shannon Hardin worked to support the movement by establishing a full-time position dedicated to the MBK Initiative in the Department of Neighborhoods.

“The MBK Leadership Conference offers Columbus a special opportunity at this critical moment in time in our city,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “It will engage, empower and educate young men of color to expand opportunities for their future.”

“This conference provides another opportunity for boys and young men of color to build resiliency in the face of environmental stressors like poverty and unsafe streets,” he continued. “Earlier this year, Council commissioned a study from the Ohio State University's Kirwan Institute on Race and Ethnicity to ensure that our work to bridge racial disparities is grounded in data and to move MBK efforts forward in our City.”

The study includes demographic information, strategic framework for understanding local issues that can inform future policy and programming aimed at improving the quality of life and access to opportunity for boys and young men of color in Columbus. It is expected to be completed this winter.

"Preliminary results have shown that boys and young men of color are at a greater risk of growing up in vulnerable neighborhoods," said Hardin. “This conference will help attendees build coping mechanisms as the City, County, nonprofits and the private sector work together to empower historically marginalized communities and improve our neighborhoods.”