By ASHLEY ANDREWS
MIAMI — Miami’s youth will interact and learn from peers and industry professionals at the second annual Youth Economic Development conference and Film Arts & Culture Coding Entrepreneur Community Expo hosted by Urgent Inc.
The two-day event will take place at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus where youth, ages 16 to 24, can engage in stimulating dialogue with Miami’s leading professionals, educators and entrepreneurs.
“Our goal is to introduce young people to different career options that are not always presented to them in school,” said Saliha Nelson, vice president of Urgent Inc.
Founded in 1994, the Urban Renewal Greater Enhancement National Team is dedicated to empowering young people to positively transform their communities. The Miami based non-profit organization currently sponsors after school programs, youth empowerment summer camps and murals in Dorsey Park.
The conference is the staple event of the FACE Summer Youth Employment and Training Program. Organizers expect over 200 youth leaders from Overtown and other communities to convene at this year’s conference. Miami’s youth will be introduced to more unconventional careers in film, technology, creative design, radio, TV production and entrepreneurship.
“We have to make sure that we continue to elevate the conversation about empowering our youth to sustain themselves economically and educationally,” said Nelson.
Starting at 8:30 a.m. each day, the conference will feature different interactive workshops where youth and professionals will discuss youth unemployment, education and economic opportunities in their communities. Youth and chaperones will hear from the conference’s featured keynote speaker, actor Tommy Ford, who is famously known for his role on the popular 90’s sitcom Martin.
“Tommy Ford is the perfect speaker to help bridge the gap between the older and younger generations,” said Nelson.
New to this year’s conference is a youth town hall meeting that will give young people a platform to voice their concerns to Miami elected officials. The meeting will consist of a variety of dialogue sessions concerning various issues in the community.
“It’s important that we give our youth the chance to be heard by those who can make a difference in their communities,” said Nelson. “We don’t want them to only hear from professionals. We want to hear what’s on their minds and hearts as well.”
Another key activity in this year’s conference is the design session track. Youth will address issues in their communities concerning education and unemployment and brainstorm solutions to solve these problems through interactive workshops.
The conference will be closed by a screening of Unrealistic, a fun but educational film showcasing the issues of race, bullying and youth homelessness. After the screening, attendees will enjoy a special performance by Miami’s up-and-coming pop star, Teenear.
Urgent Inc. partnered with the South East Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Agency and Chairman City of Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon look to provide Miami’s youth with insight and knowledge in their respective desired fields. The conference is also sponsored by Allegany Franciscan Ministries, Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the City of Miami, Miami-Dade County, Barry University, University of Miami, Dress for Success Miami, Overtown CRA and Pass the Notes.