Community College of Philadelphia hosts conference focusing on empowerment and community for men of color

Breakout sessions will cover topics including mental health, paying for college, and self-marketing for job applications.

The exterior of the Community College of Philadelphia

The Community College of Philadelphia on Spring Garden Street. (Danya Henninger/Billy Penn)

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The Community College of Philadelphia is hosting its first conference focused on educational and economic empowerment for the city’s men of color.

The free Engage, Educate, Empower: Men of Color conference on Saturday will include multiple speakers, over a dozen breakout sessions, and a chance for participants to network and make connections.

“Building networks, creating and building allies, providing a comfort zone — an area of safe space — where men are able to get beyond their comfort zone and talk about some of the challenges that they’re dealing with,” said Community College of Philadelphia President Donald Guy Generals. “And hear solutions to some of those challenges based on those of us who have been through those challenges.”

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Breakout sessions will dive into topics such as searching for a college, strategically financing the cost of college, and navigating a college career. Other sessions will be interactive, focused on goal-setting, vulnerability, and using art to find emotional freedom. There will also be a workshop focusing on self-marketing for job applications, with tips for writing effective resumes and building a page on LinkedIn.

Temple University professor of Africology and African American studies Molefi Kete Asante, who leads the Molefi Kete Asante Institute for Afrocentric Studies think tank, will deliver the keynote address.

Generals said the conference is about building community and creating a safe space to discuss the structural barriers that men of color face.

“There’ll be broader conversations that are really designed to inspire, to embolden men of color with ideas relative to the status of life and trying to survive in America as a man of color,” he added.

One of the issues the conference seeks to address is the underrepresentation of men of color among the student body at CCP.

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Three quarters of the college’s students are people of color — but women outnumber men two-to-one. Among male students, just over half are men of color, Generals said.

“There’s absolutely an imbalance,” he said. “We’re trying to not only address the issues of enrollment, access, and opportunity, but also academic success — because that number gets even smaller when you talk about the number of men who are able to persist towards graduation and then ultimately graduate.”

Generals says CCP plans to grow the conference in future years to attract attendees from across the country.

“This is an important issue. It’s a national issue,” he said. “We’re very optimistic about the success of this.”

Saturday’s conference will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the college’s Bonnell Building on Spring Garden Street.

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