On January 16, 1993, the first African American Youth Leadership Conference (AAYLC) was held at the Hillside Community Center, Colorado Springs. It was sponsored by the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, INC.
The AAYLC was limited to young African American males in grades 6 – 12 and was presented from a male minority point of view. The AAYLC was the first of its kind in Colorado Springs and the focus was on: social problems affecting black youth, the importance of an education along with various educational programs and initiatives and the examination of Black History. There were approximately 175 male students in attendance.
This AAYLC was so successful and well received by the community that is was expanded the following year, 1994, to include females in grades 6 – 12. At that time, Colorado College became the first major partner of the Conference by providing both funding and its facilities. Colorado College, notably, has remained as a major partner since 1994. The AAYLC is now host to approximately 600 students of all ethnicities annually in March on the campus of Colorado College.
Because of the educational development and community outreach focus, the AAYLC has grown in magnitude since its inception and serves as a program supported by corporate, civic, academic, religious, fraternal, social organizations and individuals in the community. It is totally organized and implemented by community volunteers. To date, the AAYLC has hosted over 13,000 students in the Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Denver area and has given over $140,000 in student scholarships. The AAYLC has a sustained and rich history that instills high standards and positive moral values in our youth.
Shantelle Nix Testimonials
Executive Director Of AAYLC
The African American Youth Leadership Conference (AAYLC) continues to embark on an amazing journey to uphold our purpose of providing and supporting educational, personal and leadership development for youth. This year’s conference theme, 2020 VISION #SeeBeyondNow, is especially important to me. It is crucial for students to see past the here and now of today and focus on their vision of tomorrow. Each year the conference delivers dynamic, engaging and multidimensional sessions that provide firsthand learning experiences to inspire possibility, creativity and imagination. The conference seeks to provide adaptable insights and takeaways for youth that are applicable to the goals and challenges that they face today. Discussions ranging from college preparation, career exploration, social and political happenings, to black history and STEM are presented to support our goal of “Youth Building Respect and Responsibility for Future Success”. Personally, after over 15 years of involvement with the AAYLC; from being a parent bringing my own children, an educator accompanying students, a volunteer ushering students, to now have the privilege of being the Executive Director of the organization, I can honestly say we are in our greatest season and I am honored to be a part this legacy supporting the current and future youth leaders in the Pikes Peak Region.
Ashley McNeely Testimonials
“The moment that you see all of the students you are suddenly hit with a realization of the importance of this event. There are students from all walks of life but they all have one thing in common; they want to learn. These students have made the choice to attend this conference because they want to grow and they want to succeed further than anyone can imagine. In one moment all of that hits you and it makes you proud to be part of such an amazing event. It also strengthens your resolve to fight for these young people.”
Deylen Duncan Testimonials
Student Attendee of AAYLC
I’ve been going to the conference since I was a baby because my mom volunteered and she was part of the planning committee. My favorite part of the conference was the Science Guy because we got to do cool experiments. One of the experiments was putting marshmallows in dry ice then eating them. Another experiment involved us standing in a line then we were shocked and it went all of the way down the line. I can’t wait to see what will be new and improved at the upcoming conference and I can’t wait to see the new people.
Zakaryah Scruggs Testimonials
Student Attendee of AAYLC
“My name is Zakaryah Scruggs, I am 17 years old and in my senior year of high school approaching my very last African American Youth Leadership Conference prior to leaving the state to attend college. I have attended the conference for two years prior; this will be my third and final year of attending. My favorite part about attending the AAYLC is the environment of black excellence that is created when intelligent young black men and women come together for the greater good of our community. Living in Colorado Springs, it is not very often that I see other people that look like me and share the same trials and tribulations that come with living in America. The most valuable thing that I’d say I’ve learned from AAYLC is that I shouldn’t limit myself or my abilities to what other people expect of me. As an underclassman in high school, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I had been told my whole life what to and what not to do by other people my entire life. AAYLC taught me that I am greater than my expectations and that I am capable of what I set my mind to and accomplish. I speak on behalf of my ancestors by saying that Black IS power! The thing that I am most excited about attending at next year’s AAYLC is the community, the fun, and rich culture that runs deeper than the color of our skin. I can’t wait to see what my last AAYLC brings.”