On January 16, 1993, the first African American Youth Leadership Conference (AAYLC) was held at the Hillside Community Center, Colorado Spring, CO. It was sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. The conference was limited to young African American males and was presented from a male, minority point of view. The goal of this conference was to focus on African American males in grades 6-12. The conference was the first of its kind in Colorado Springs & focused on social problems affecting black youth such as AIDS, sex education, gangs and included the examination of Black History. There were approximately 175 students in attendance at the first AAYLC.
This program was so successful and well received by the community; it was expanded in 1994 to include females in grades 6-12. Currently, the conference is held annually during the spring on the campus of Colorado College in Colorado Springs. This event has grown in magnitude since its inception and now serves as a program supported by corporate, civic, academic, religious, fraternal, social organizations and individuals in the community. Colorado College has continued to be the major sponsor of the conference since 1994.
The conference is now planning its 24th year and the attendance averages close to 500 students from the Pikes Peak Region. Students from Pueblo and Denver also attended. Despite the name, students are welcomed from all ethnicities. Workshops offered include Leadership Development, African American History, Conflict Resolution, Social Issues, College Preparatory, Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM), Career Options, Computers, and Money Management. Each year, the conference committee members select a keynote speaker to inspire and motivate students to work towards achieving the conference theme and mission.
In addition to providing youth with positive role models and experiences, AAYLC provides mentoring programs, scholarship assistance for students, parent education programs, Project Alpha (males only), a teen-age pregnancy program from a male perspective sponsored by Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, and a Leadership Institute for 11th & 12th grade students. The conference has now served nearly 9,000 students, has granted about $88,000 in scholarships.