Africa Now Conference [Virtual]
The African continent is home to the largest youth population in the world. With the increased access to information and new platforms to mobilize, youth across the continent are fighting to address corruption and create ways to contribute to the growth of their specific country. This revolution is one that cannot be ignored; the African continent has abundant resources and limitless potential that generally goes unacknowledged and continues to be exploited by outside actors. Africa’s youth across the diaspora are eager to help their nations achieve the long-overdue potential that experts have been predicting for decades. Here in Washington, we’ve decided to join the revolution by supplementing the educational pursuits of young professionals and cultivating them to unlock the future of Africa, now.
Inspired by the Green New Deal’s efforts to address climate change and economic inequality; two problems disproportionality affecting Black and African peoples across the globe, Africa Now conference seeks to make its 2020 conference a point of intervention. With the youth of the world working tirelessly to let the institutional powers that be understand that the future is not only now but us, this conference will serve as a place for collective action.
This year our theme is Achieving a Sustainable Future - our goal is to highlight the importance of environmental sustainability in local and global African communities
This encompasses looking at sustainability through a holistic lens, an approach that we believe aligns with the CSF’s efforts in expanding the scope of sustainability.
Africa Now defines sustainability as addressing the environmental, economic, social, and political aspects of Africa’s continued growth. This year, our theme is centered around environmental sustainability. We want to analyze and identify practical solutions for environmental sustainability through the lens of politics, business, education, media and technology. Our holistic approach to environmental sustainability also takes into account that black and African communities bear the brunt of climate change.
Africa Now is seeking $20,500 from the Campus Sustainability Fund to assist in organizing our third annual conference to inspire young Black students and professionals to join the movement for sustainable, afrocentric, African development. By tapping into the network of young, Black students and professionals in Washington, we can bring together an interdisciplinary group of driven individuals to evaluate how our skills can play a role in the sustainable growth of our common, ancestral homeland.
The Africa NOW Conference -- hosted and organized in collaboration with the African Student Association, Black Student Union, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and other student organizations -- brings together over 200, young, Black students and professionals. The conference provides them with the insights, knowledge, and resources necessary to envision sustainable ways to improve their communities in Seattle, Africa, and across the Diaspora. Through an all-star panel, dynamic breakout sessions, and networking, we’ll inspire and equip young Black professionals to fight for a sustainable future for Africa. This will be held on the UW Seattle campus.
From its inception, the vision of the Africa Now Conference has been driven and realized by students. After two annual conferences and a transition to a non-profit, this still remains true. The Africa Now Conference is entirely organized by current UW students in the Seattle Area and supported by an alumni who is also the founder of this vision. In regards to student involvement, the Africa Now conference is a think tank full of dedicated students who work to enhance the reach and impact of the conference and one another. Comprised of 11 executive board members, and a team of volunteers, the conference planning committee brings students from a myriad of backgrounds, departments and student organizations who are all committed to fulfilling the demands of the conference.
The most important approach for ensuring that UW students are interested in attending the conference is for it to be organized by students. Because the organizing board is composed of students from all academic and experiential backgrounds, it is aware of the general interests and concerns that our peers share; this allows us to target speakers, facilitators, and resources that can best address those needs. Given the success of the past 2 years, the Africa Now conference saw a significant increase in students interested in getting involved in the conference again. The level of interest required the Program Directors to institute an application process to select this year’s organizing board; and like every aspect of the conference the selection process is also conducted be fellow students who have dedicated their time and effort to the purpose of Africa Now.
Understanding that there is a need to be organized and direct in assembling the organizing board, not all students are able to be selected. However, the Africa Now conference realizes that all students who express an interest in having a direct involvement with the conference are able to provide a myriad of resources and abilities that can also serve well on the day of the conference if they choose. All previous applicants are contacted by the organizing board to gather student volunteers for lead up events and the day of the conference. Recruitment for volunteers is not only done by the conference’s board members but in collaboration with the black organizations both on and off campus that we work with throughout the entire process.
Beyond serving as organizers or volunteers, the best way for students to get involved in the Africa Now Project is by attending the conference itself. The conference will be a great opportunity for students to learn about afrocentric, sustainable development projects and how to be involved in making that a reality. Despite the afrocentric nature of this event, the strategies and tactics of the conference can be applied to communities and countries that do not belong to the African diaspora. As such, Africa Now will seek to reach out to FIUTS, FASA, MEChA and other student organizations that serve students and communities of color. These groups could not only explore strategies for sustainable development, but they could also learn how to be better allies for Black/African people.
Education & Outreach:
Education, outreach and behavioral changes are at the center of the Africa Now conference purpose. Because our goal is to educate, organize, and mobilize, the Africa Now conference recognizes that this can only be done through the continued expansion and collaboration between Black and African Organization within the Seattle community, organizations back on the African continent and Africa Now. Each year one of our primary goals is to bolster our networks for the purpose of increasing the number and diversity of our attendees. Continued collaboration between fellow black student organization on the UW campus such as the Black Student Union, African Student Association, the African Studies Department; and non-UW organizations such as Mother Africa allows the Africa Now conference to deliver a holistic education and provision of practical tools that yield changes in our attendees.
At the 2020 conference one of the specific ways we hope to educate conference attendees is through a case competition. Attendees will be presented with real life situations and problems on sustainability (or lack thereof) across the 4 key areas (political, environmental, social, economic) of sustainability in selected groups. Students will, with measured guidance from workshop leaders work in their groups to bring about a resolution and recommendations to the problems they’re assigned. The purpose of this is to increase the engagement and networking potential of the conference but most importantly interact with applicable knowledge. Through this we hope that students will be willing practitioners of the tools and skills they’ll learn at the conference. We believe that beginning the process of applying sustainable practices to real time scenarios will work in changing the attitudes of the students. We understand the propensity for inaction after such events, and the case competition will hopefully place attendees in the space of believing in their ability to be the agents of change needed.
- Energy Use
- Environmental Justice
- Community Development
- Cultural Representation
- Social Justice
The feasibility of this project is best demonstrated by the past two annual Africa Now conferences, which conference attendees rated as a success. The first, which was held in May of 2018 had over 100 registered attendees. In our 2019 conference, we accommodated for over 180 attendees. This year’s planning committee will leverage and build on the experiences of these past two conferences, as well as the feedback from the surveys that our conference attendees completed. For our 2020 conference, we will spotlight the work that has been continued since our last annual conference.
The organizing board takes seriously the procurement of long term sponsorships and partnerships for the longevity of our conference and mission. After transitioning into a non-profit organization Africa Now now has access to a pool of potential donors that it had previously been unable to work with. In past years those who expressed an interest in funding the conference were unsure how to proceed after being informed that we lacked the necessary tax write off codes. As we move forward with a fiscal sponsor -Mother Africa, we plan on reaching out and establishing these sponsorships and partnerships. We believe that this strong relationship between Africa Now and its supporting community in the Greater Seattle Area and beyond are what will allow us to continue enriching global perspectives, supporting grassroots efforts across the African diaspora, and providing individuals with the network and resources to tackle problems facing the African continent and its diaspora.
The central focus of Africa Now is raising a local awareness about the unsustainability of global development projects, especially those taking place in African countries and communities. We want attendees to recognize the unique position of Africans - on the Continent and throughout the diaspora - to play a role in addressing the problems that arise from those projects. Africa Now sees development as having 4 key areas of impact that determines whether or not a project is sustainable: environmental, economic, political, and social. Each of these aspects is important to ensure that projects are truly sustainable for the people, their country, their land, and the world. While the political and social areas are typically more locally/regionally isolate, the environmental and economic impacts and pressures can be - and typically are - global in nature.
Our primary goal for the 2020 Africa Now conference is for attendees to have a forum to explore strategies for developing sustainable solutions for their communities throughout the African Diaspora and in Africa within the 4 key areas. The conference will provide attendees learning opportunities, discussion forums, tools and resources that will allow them to leave the conference with actionable solutions they can implement so as to contribute to environmental sustainability in their communities. This year, we plan on incorporating seven separate breakout sessions throughout the conference in order to allow our attendees to learn from individuals who are experts within their fields but also tap into their existing knowledge as a collaborative group. We want to provide new interactive ways for our attendees learn, network, and take action with those who are in these fields and those who are interested in the development of the African continent, and our approach to education, outreach, and behavior changes provide the means to do so. Because our goal is to educate, organize, and mobilize, the Africa Now conference recognizes that this can only be done through the continued expansion and collaboration between Black and African Organization within the Seattle community, organizations back on the African continent and Africa Now. Each year one of our primary goals is to bolster our networks for the purpose of increasing the number and diversity of our attendees. Continued collaboration between fellow black student organization on the UW campus such as the Black Student Union, African Student Association, the African Studies Department; and non-UW organizations such as Mother Africa allows the Africa Now conference to deliver a holistic education and provision of practical tools that yield changes in our attendees.
Explain how the impacts will be measured:
The Africa Now views the impact of our conference in two parts- direct sustainable outcomes and the impact on education and behavior changes. Each year the committee works diligently to ensure that we are not only teaching attendants and our communities sustainable practices but being practitioners of these efforts ourselves. This includes recycling as much of our conference materials as possible and having the conference and all lead up events on the UW campus. Encouraging ridesharing to our events, minimizing hardware advertisements which often require widespread use of paper, and supplementing with a strong online presence as a part of our marketing/advertising also allow us to increase our sustainable impact. Adding modes of trasnportation as a category on our exit surveys will also give us a better understanding of pre-conference impacts that can be used in the future for other purposes such as providing accomodations and increasing our accessibility. Our speakers are often local to Washington state which not only reduces travel costs, but let's our audience know that there are people within their own state, and oftentimes city, who are doing the work that they want to be a part of. In the event that we do have to fly-in a speaker or two, Africa Now plans to mitigate the impact of air pollution by having a tree planting day. We’re currently working on identifying local organizations such as Plant-for-the-Planet Washington to achieve this should we fly-in a speaker.
Our plan for measuring the impact of our conference is through the follow up survey which we have conducted in previous years, as well as connecting with students on the ways they’ve implemented the solutions and recommendations they’ll identify during the case competition (refer to Outreach, Education, and Behavior Change section). We plan on having a spotlight section of the conference which will allow past returning attendees to share the ways they’ve gone about implementing the tools they’ve received at past conferences to measure the impact of our conference.
At the 2020 conference one of the specific ways we hope to educate conference attendees is through a case competition. Attendees will be presented with real life situations and problems on sustainability (or lack thereof) in selected groups. Students will, with measured guidance from workshop leaders work in their groups to bring about a resolution and recommendations to the problems they’re assigned. The purpose of this is to increase the engagement and networking potential of the conference but most importantly interact with applicable knowledge. Through this we hope that students will be willing practitioners of the tools and skills they’ll learn at the conference. We believe that beginning the process of applying sustainable practices to real time scenarios will work in changing the attitudes of the students. We understand the propensity for inaction after such events, and the case competition will hopefully place attendees in the space of believing in their ability to be the agents of change needed.
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:
|Plates and Utensils
|Physical Promo - Video
|Digital Promo (Website)
|225 Reusable Water Bottles
|Media - 2 Photographers & 1 Videographer
|Speakers (7 x ~ $1000)
|Bus Vouchers for Students
|Stickers - Decale
|ECC Student Event Fund
|African Chamber of Commerce
|Blacks at Microsoft
|Africans at Boeing
|Africans at T-Mobile
|Estimated Completion Date
|Reach Out to Speakers
|Apply For Funds
|Organize Lead Up Events
|Book Photographer, Artists, Caterers, etc.
|Organize Volunteers/ Media Output
|Registration Period/ Close Registration
|Finalize day-of details
|Conference Packet/ Decor
|Analyze Survey Data