"Breakfast Club" host to keynote inaugural Family and Community Empowerment conference in Ypsi

In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) to scrap plans for a new conference focusing on care, safety, academics, and partnerships. But the free event is back in a new form for 2022, featuring nationally known radio personality Angela Yee as its keynote speaker.

A slightly scaled-down version of the inaugural Family and Community Empowerment (FACE) conference has been combined with YCS' annual Back to School Bash from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 20 at Ypsilanti Community High School, 2095 Packard St. in Ypsilanti. YCS partnered with more than 30 local organizations to bring the conference to YCS families and community members.

"The administration really wanted to have a place where families could get one-stop information and resources for things that might be going on in their family," says Taryn Willis, community events contractor for YCS. 

Willis says the four focus topics of care, safety, academics, and partnerships are based on needs that parents expressed in surveys distributed by YCS. She says topics and resources covered under those four categories could include issues like mental health, reading proficiency, support for graduating seniors' next steps, cyber bullying, and community safety. 

Keynote speaker Yee is the host of the popular syndicated morning show "The Breakfast Club."

"We picked Angela Yee because we wanted someone who was going to inspire our families, especially our moms and young girls," Willis says. "She comes with great insight about being yourself, confidence, and having a great work ethic."

Conference attendees can take advantage of free care and hands-on activities for their children. Pre-kindergarteners through fifth-graders can be dropped off at Estabrook Elementary, and sixth- through eighth-graders at Ypsilanti Middle School. Child care will be provided for a total of up to 400 children.

"The parents can go to the conference and not be interrupted while the children are safe with a group overseen by teachers and parapros," Willis says. 

Parents and community members can come to one of two conference sessions and then join the Back to School Bash afterward. YCS administration hopes to give out at least 1,500 backpacks filled with school supplies, and perhaps as many as 2,000, this year.

In 2023, the FACE conference will move to March in an expanded format similar to the district's original vision, Willis says. She says YCS administration will also fund all 10 schools in the district to host their own "mini-conferences," which could take the form of workshops, ice cream socials, or other events.

Free tickets for the conference are available here.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.
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