Africa Now 2019 Conference

Project Size: Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $10,000

Letter of Intent:

 

Summary:

In recognizing that current development projects are draining Africa of its natural resources, destroying its ecosystems, and exploiting its peoples, Africa Now is seeking $10,000 to assist in organizing our second annual conference focused on inspiring 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 will bring together an interdisciplinary group of driven individuals to assess how our skills can play a role in the sustainable growth of our common, ancestral homeland.

As this year marks the second year of this on-going conference, we will capitalize on the lessons learned from the inaugural year to make the 2019 conference a resounding success. One of our associated focuses is expanding our reach to increase the number and diversity of attendees. Towards this goal, we have enhanced our social media presence to establish continual channels of communication with our potential attendees. Additionally, we have strengthened existing and developed new relationships with local Black and African organizations (e.g. Africans at Microsoft, the Washington State Coalition of African Community Leaders, the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, etc.) to grow our audience to include young African professionals in various disciplines.

Through community outreach and social media, we intend to double last years attendance rates to bring together over 200, young, Black students and professionals. Our goal, at the conference, is to provide these attendees with the insights, knowledge, and resources necessary to envision sustainable ways to improve their communities in Seattle, in 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.

The conference will be held at the Intellectual House and Denny Hall on May 20th from 12pm - 6pm. Lunch and refreshments will be provided throughout the day.

Sustainable Impact:

Our primary goal is for attendees to explore strategies for sustainably developing their communities in Africa and throughout the African Diaspora. To Africa Now, sustainability means addressing the environmental, economic, social, and political aspects of Africa’s growth. We want our attendees to recognize that Africa is comprised of numerous, fragile ecosystems; that wealth inequality needs to be addressed urgently; that Africans throughout the Diaspora lack access to crucial health resources and are otherwise at risk; and that many African nation-states are politically unstable due to a history of colonialism and the current, neocolonial, capital-based pressures of foreign imperial powers. It is important, for the purposes of sustainability, that these realities are recognized by our attendees as we join the Fight for Africa’s Future.

Towards this, our conference will provide attendees with the knowledge, information, and resources to have a sustainable impact in their communities. One of our key ways of sharing this information will be through our breakout sessions. There will be four separate workshops taking place concurrently during our two breakout session phases. There will be one workshop dedicated to each of the different axes of sustainability: environmental, economic, social, and political. These sessions will be facilitated by groups or individuals paving a path forward in their respective area of focus. We have already heard from Front and Centered as well as the Releaf CEO, Isaiah Udutong, that they would be interested in hosting workshops for us.

Given their mission statement, “Front and Centered (formerly Communities of Color for Climate Justice) is a statewide coalition of organizations and groups rooted in communities of color and people with lower incomes,” Front and Centered will be a key resource for us when it comes to highlighting the importance of environmental sustainability and what that looks like.

Our other facilitator, Isaiah, is an MIT graduate with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. After graduating, Isaiah returned home to Nigeria where he started Releaf. Releaf is a start-up focused on “employing technology to accelerate agricultural-based industrialization in Nigeria.” Isaiah will bring his experience and expertise to Africa Now by running a workshop focused on using business institutions as vehicles for sustainable, economic development.

 

Student Leadership & Involvement:

As with last year, the Africa Now conference is organized entirely by African students from around the Seattle Area, primarily UW and Seattle Central College. However, unlike last year, the conference is no longer being hosted by Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. The organizing committee recognized that it allowed us to better achieve our goals by transferring leadership from Phi Beta Sigma to the African Youth Coalition and a handful of Black/African student organizations (Black Student Union, African Student Association, Black Student Commission, etc.). We have also brought in student leaders from non-UW campuses around the area to ensure that we have a diverse group organizing this conference.

Our executive officers represent a variety of departments and student organizations from the Seattle area. The main University of Washington collaborators are the Black Student Commission, Black Student Union, and African Student Association among other Black/African student organizations in Seattle. By working with these various organizations, we will build solidarity among young Africans and establish an interdisciplinary community dedicated to sustainable, afrocentric African development. Furthermore, by collaborating with the CSF, we will be able to ensure that our conference makes sustainability a key outcome of the conference.

 

Education, Outreach, & Behavior Change:

By collaborating with a wide variety of Black and African organizations in the greater Seattle area, we will expand our reach significantly to increase the number and diversity of attendees. To enhance these efforts, the organizing board established a new executive position, the Community Engagement Officer. This officer is responsible for coordinating with community organizations to ensure that they and the general public are aware of the conference. Additionally, we will host lead up events to stimulate interest in the campus community and encourage attendance so that they can experience the transformative nature of Africa NOW.

The young Black professionals that attend and actively engage with the conference will likely leave having their lives changed. After the inaugural conference, an attendee said that the Africa Now conference inspired them to not only change their major but their entire career path going forward! The hard work that the volunteers, panelists, and facilitators put into last years conference was felt by those that attended, and they left feeling energized to get more involved in their communities and fight for a just and sustainable future for Africa and the African Diaspora.

 

Feasibility, Accountability, & Sustainability:

The feasibility of this project is best demonstrated by the first annual Africa Now conference, held in May 2018 with over 100 registered attendees. These attendees discussed ongoing African development with an engaging panel, participated in dynamic breakout sessions, and networked with fellow guests, community leaders, and others during our resource fair; conference guests gained knowledge, inspiration, and resources by attending Africa Now. The 2018 conference and its guests left us with plenty of lessons to learn and momentum to capitalize on to make the 2019 conference a resounding success

Based on last years feedback, we have enhanced our social media presence so that we can be held accountable to our past and present guests. By engaging with attendees, we can ensure that we provide them with the resources necessary to fight for a sustainable future for their communities in Seattle, Africa, and the African Diaspora. To aid our accountability, guests will also complete pre- and post-conference surveys so that we can gauge how successful we were at achieving ours goals.

With last years post conference surveys, we learned that - beyond increasing pre-conference engagement to increase attendance rates - we need to dedicate more energy to providing our conference guests/attendees with more resources so they can immediately get involved in the work of sustainable African development. Additionally, we need to ensure that the structure of our conference lends itself to being as engaging as possible.

Preliminary Budget:

We are requesting $10,000 from the Campus Sustainability Fund to help cover these conference costs.

Plates & Utensils $100
Tablecloths and Decorations $600
Flyers for UW & Other Campuses $400
Promo Media $400
250 Shirts $2,100
Program Booklets $250
Name Tags $100
Media - 2 photographers x 1 Videographer $800
Panelists (3 x $600 each) $1,800
Breakout Session speakers (4 x $500 each) $2,000
Live Band $400
Performance $500
Bus Vouchers for Students $250
250 Lanyards $300
Total $10,000

Outside of the CSF, we will be seeking funding from the Race and Equity Initiative, the ECC Student Event Fund, as well as community organizations (e.g. African Chamber of Commerce) and businesses.

 

Agenda:

The current conference agenda is as follows:

  • 11:00am-12:00pm      Registration
  • 12:00-12:20pm           Conference Introductions
  • 12:20 – 12:30pm        Transition
  • 12:30 – 1:10pm          Breakout session #1
  • 1:10 – 1:20pm      Transition
  • 1:20 – 2:00pm     Breakout Session #2
  • 2:00 – 3:00pm    Lunch and entertainment
  • 3:10 – 3:20pm      Transition to Panel
  • 3:20 – 4:00pm     Panel Discussion
  • 4:00 – 4:10pm            Transition
  • 4:10 – 4:40pm      Resource Fair
  • 4:40 – 5:00pm     Closing Comments
Primary Contact First & Last Name: Hawi Nemomssa