Magic Johnson inspires and invests in Omaha at Rebuilding the Village Conference
Over 1,100, including 400 youth participate in 3 day national Empowerment Network conference in Omaha, Nebraska.
By Willie Barney
It’s hard to believe it has already been a week. Thank you, Omaha and national friends. The Empowerment Network team and our partners went all in for the 16th Annual Rebuilding the Village Conference. Omaha responded. 23 cities from across the country responded.
When I was in prayer after last year’s event, the words “Run It Back” came into my spirit! Bring Magic back and build on the experience.
GOD has blessed in amazing ways. We stepped out in faith and followed what we believed He was telling us to do.
Some wondered. Would people come back? Would the community support it? Could it be bigger and better?
Over 1,100 participated, including 400+ youth and the experience was even more magical!
Magic took things even higher than last year providing even more wisdom, full ride scholarships, internships in Los Angeles and business opportunities with his companies. Plus, he unexpectedly raised $90,000 to support the Network!
The six national keynote speakers were phenomenal, and the sessions were well attended. Made for a difficult decision about which breakout to attend. The feedback has been off the charts.
Representatives from over 20 cities attended including partners from Kansas City, Tulsa, New Orleans, Columbus GA, Denver, Little Rock, Atlanta, Chicago, Davenport/QC, Sacramento, Washington DC and other communities.
20 major sponsors invested. Dozens of volunteers supported it.
50+ local and national speakers shared their wisdom and insights to help build safe and thriving communities.
We had over 400 youth engaged in the event. They joined us for panels, main stage sessions and the Step-Up Omaha Interns and Youth 360 also had their own summit within the conference in partnership with J Shannon, David and Next.
The federal government including USDA, Dept of Justice and Health and Human Services all had key leaders in attendance.
The 4 tours (Black owned trolley and bus companies), three covering North Omaha and one citywide were well received.
30+ Black businesses benefitted directly. We supported Black restaurants and organizations.
The Village at 24th and Lake reception was well attended and featured music, food, shopping and visits to the museums and new businesses.
Businesses throughout the whole city experienced economic benefit including hotels, airlines, transportation, shopping, food, and entertainment.
We cannot thank you all enough.
Thank you, Magic. Thank you to the Empowerment Network team.
Thank you to the board.
Thank you, speakers, panelists, sponsors, and volunteers.
Thank you to our national guests. Thank you, Omaha, for being amazing hosts.
Thank you to my wife, son and daughter who helped in so many ways and have sacrificed greatly over the years. Love you and appreciate you!
Let’s Win Together Omaha! Let’s win together national partners. Let’s build safe and thriving communities in every zip code.
Delta Sigma Theta’s 4th Annual Side Hustle Saturday, a major success
Saturday, March 4th was the 4th Annual Side Hustle event and it continues to grow each year.
The conference room at Immanuel was packed full of entrepreneurs, business owners and supporters of Black-owned businesses.
Angelia Thomas, chair of the Delta’s Economic Development committee and Elaine Adams, chair of the Side Hustle event, were both excited and encouraged by the turnout and content of the event.
Throughout the day, they both encouraged participants to support the variety of Black business vendors that were in the room. Attendees took action and supported the businesses by purchasing products, services and making connections for future support.
“Side Hustle Saturday is a program that promotes small business ownership and economic development within the community,” said Thomas. “Numerous vendors and business owners connected at the program to share business ideas, promote their goods/services, and to network.”
The event also included a keynote presentation by Yolanda Barney, co-founder and co-publisher of Revive Omaha and co-owner of the Revive Center and Carver Legacy Center and other businesses.
Barney shared part of her entrepreneurial journey and emphasized the importance of supporting Black Businesses. Barney, and her husband Willie, launched their own personal challenge over 20 years ago and have increased the amount they spend with Black Businesses each year. In addition, they made a commitment to prioritize Black businesses professionally through their own businesses and non-profits.
The challenge has evolved into the Revive Black Business Network where they encourage other business owners and the community to formally join in on the strategy.
After Barney’s keynote speech, four more entrepreneurs took to the stage in a panel discussion sharing wisdom with the audience about what it takes to launch and scale a successful business.
Candice Price, co-owner of HomeTeam Auto Sales, Martin Quartey, owner of Advance Tax Solutions, Nicole Ryan, owner of Laana Financial Solutions and Yolanda Harris, owner of several businesses shared powerful insights from their own journeys to entrepreneurship and examples of how they have helped other business owners.
To stay connected with the Delta’s Side Hustle Saturday, go to Delta Sigma Theta – Omaha Alumnae Chapter (dstomaha.org)
To learn more about Revive Black Business Network, go to www.reviveomaha.com
To get connected with Black Business resources, click here.
To see a list of Black Businesses in Omaha, click here.
Teen Summit hosted by Black Police Officers Association builds bridges, provides insights
Saturday, March 25, 2023
In its ninth year, the Teen Summit hosted by the Black Police Officers Association (BPOA) is producing great fruit and providing important insights from youth.
After a few years of hosting virtual events because of the pandemic, the Teen Summit returned to in person sessions and moved to the Village Empowerment Center. The impactful event was co-founded between BPOA and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
“We love having the opportunity to engage with the youth in the community in a positive way,” said Marcus Taylor, one of the event organizers and co-founder of the BPOA.
“Hosting the event in person allows for a lot more interaction,” said Ken Fox, another organizer and co-founder of the program.
All youth participants not only walked away with knowledge and new tools to prevent and solve problems, but great gifts ranging from iPads and chrome books to big screen televisions.
“We like to give them an opportunity to reflect on the day and think about what they have learned,” said Curtis Morgan, co-organizer and facilitator of the student panel and discussions. “The gifts also are a fun way to end the day and send them home with something unexpected.”
Students had the opportunity to attend sessions focused on what they called “real topics.”
One of the participants said, “These are the types of issues we should be talking about at school.”
In a panel discussion at the end of the event others agreed and offered their suggestions to improve the community and outlined priorities they would focus on if they were principals in their schools.
These are suggestions from students in attendance:
- Schools should have more activities and clubs for Black students.
- More opportunities to open up to discuss feeling and challenges.
- Kindness Club. Intentionally tell students what is good about them. More messages to show appreciation.
- More black teachers. Understand our culture.
- More student voices included in decision-making.
- Girls should be able to play all sports including football.
- Create QR Codes that capture student input and then respond to what students are saying.
- Explain why things are in place. Example. No Gum Policy. Why?
- Create assemblies on topics they students are actually interested in. Discuss issues that are actually impacting us. Like what we did today.
- Should make community announcements at school. Kids are dealing with problems at school and at home. Speak reality during the announcements at school.
- More people in student government that actually reflect what students want.
Issues that need to be addressed:
- School too traditional. Need to innovate.
- No events at school that touch on tough issues like this and there’s no communication about events like this.
- These are different times as we are growing up.
- We can look up the answers through technology quicker than it is being taught. Need to new teaching methods.
- Mental health.
- Everybody is struggling with something. Need to talk about it. Therapy sessions are needed with every student
- Gun violence.
- How to balance things. Home. School. Work. Family.
- Depression. Childhood Trauma. People aren’t acknowledging the issues we are facing.
- Addressing the “beauty” standard. Clear skin. Light skin. Dark skin.
“It’s great to see the event return to in person and continue giving our youth a platform to learn and give input on issues important to them,” said Jermaine Ballard, one of the keynote speakers.
He encouraged the students telling them they have already shown leadership.
“You could have stayed in bed or played video games all day, but you chose to come here to learn. You are all leaders.”
The Teen Summit is hosted annually by the Black Police Officers Association. Event organizers include: Marcus Taylor, Curtis Morgan, Ken Fox and David Preston. Guest speakers included Jermaine Ballard, Keith Station, Jennifer Clark, Jeff Williams, Galat Toung, Johnny Nesbitt and others.
For more information, please go to: https://bpoaofomaha.com/