On Saturday, September 29th, we hosted our Second Annual Future Proof Conference featuring Let Us Make Man. We welcomed nearly 500 10th and 11th grade students to UAB from the Black Belt, along with their parents, grandparents, teachers, guidance counselors, principals, and superintendents! It was an amazing day and we are so thankful to everyone who played a part in pulling it off.

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We’re specifically thankful to our presenters from Let Us Make Man. These men continue to show up to encourage, mentor, and connect with our students again and again. During this conference, the Let Us Make Man team put on a number of workshops for our students and the adults, all of which were a huge success!

On Saturday, our attendees headed to the workshops after a quick welcome and introduction to each of our speakers. They were divided into groups and sent to one of four workshops offered by members of the Let Us Make Man Team. The workshops were: "In My Feelings" Mental Health Workshop taught by Christopher Bass, PhD, "Restoring the Family" taught by Gerry White, PhD, "Awakening the Genius in our Youth" taught by Keene Walker, and "Mind Your Business: The Fundamentals of Entrepreneurship" by Eldridge Washington. Each of our attendees was able to participate in two of these workshops, one before lunch and one afterwards.

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During the lunch hour, we separate the male and female students and sent them into our Chat and Chew workshops while the adults were sent into their own Chat and Chew session. The girls’ sessions were a youth self Esteem & self love entitled, "I Said What I Said” presented by Imani White, MPH, a criminal justice session entitled, "Examining Potholes of Being a Ride or Die Chick" presented by Celeste White, PhD, and a session on success entitled, "Are You Lit? Learning to Let Your Light Shine & Accomplish Your Goals" presented by Rosalind Gregory-Bass, MD. These sessions proved to be a great encouragement to our GUA ladies as they learned from Ms. White, Dr. White, and Dr. Bass.


The boys Chat and Chew workshops included a session focused on critiquing our culture entitled, "Drugs & Hip Hop: Is it Shaping our Identity, Purpose and Direction?" taught by Keene Walker and Doug Evans, a session on youth leadership titled "M.A.D.E. Life: Why Good Leaders Live Good Lives" presented Eldridge Washington and Fred Parham, and a session on manhood development entitled, "Examining the Manhood Brand" presented by Dr. Christopher Bass and Jarrod Grant. The guys were both challenged and encouraged by these presentations, and were definitely left with new things to think about and ways they can grow as leaders.

While the students were in their chat and chew sessions, the adults were in a session taught by

Dr. Gerry White, LMSW, entitled, "Parent Involvement -- A Paradigm Shift". This session focused on the way that parent involvement can improve the lives of both students and parents. We hope that what Dr. White taught can be passed on from the attending adults to the ones unable to join us, and that his lessons are reflected in GUA parent participation!

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We are so proud of how the day turned out, and we can’t wait to bring everyone together for our next conference. GEAR UP Alabama exists to equip and grow our students as both students and thinkers, and we hope our conferences act as a place for them to grow as both!

Thank you to everyone who played a role in the day. We are so grateful to our presenters: Dr. Gerry White, Dr. Celeste White, Dr. Christopher Bass, Dr. Rosalind Bass, Mr. Eldridge Washington, Mr. Fred Parham, Mr. Keene Walker, Mr. Doug Evans, Ms. Imani White, Mr. Jarrod Grant and Mr. Eric Morgan.

This day ran smoothly thanks to our awesome volunteers: Dr. Michele Jean Sims, Dr. Calvin Briggs, Dr. Larrell Wilkinson, Micah Briggs, Elijah Briggs, John Jeremiah White, Christopher Bass, Jr., Rhiannon Hurst, Regina Bedgood, and the wonderful B-Women: Kyrstin Stanley, Courtney McMillan, Shakonzie Alexander, Chasity Bumpers, Noel Sanders, Alexia Hillman, Kirsten Holliman, Essence King, Tyler Mantosh, Mikaela Munoz, Asia Daniels, and Dominque Nash. Thanks to Alabama Possible and College Admissions Made Possible!

The Hill Student Center was the perfect venue and the staff was beyond helpful leading up to, and throughout the day! Sodexo provided a great breakfast, and Panera, a filling lunch!

Special thanks to the families and administrators for allowing our students the opportunity to participate in this day, and to all the GUA staffers and chaperones that welcomed the students from: Robert C. Hatch, Francis Marion, Selma, Greene County, Pickens County, Aliceville, Gordo, Brewbaker Tech, Lee, Lanier, Jeff Davis, Park Crossings, Carver, BTW Magnet, Pike County, Goshen, Hale County, Greensboro, Wilcox Central, The Calhoun, Central-Lowndes, BTW, Notasulga, and Bullock County.