Usher’s New Look (UNL), a philanthropic organization dedicated to uplifting, empowering and transforming the lives of underserved youth worldwide, this week kicked off the 2021 edition of its annual Disruptivator Summit to address critical issues facing young people.
For its organizers, the event is an opportunity to give youth the tools they need to go back to their communities and ultimately spread their wings to make a difference in their lives and for communities at large.
“Our 2021 Disruptivator Summit is quite literally a creative gathering of forward-thinking youth leaders. While different this year, as it will be virtual, the 2021 Disruptivator Summit will be even more impactful given the tremendous line-up of activities, speakers and dynamics we are bringing to bear,” UNL president and CEO Careshia Moore, Esq. , said in the run-up to the two-day event.
Since its founding in 1999 by musical performer Usher Raymond IV, Usher’s New Look has been at the forefront of driving conversation into action and mobilizing communities, including the private sector, and the public to work together around the issues of community empowerment, youth development and economic disparities. Ongoing programs throughout the year include a leadership academy, Disruptivator Clubs at high schools across the country and financial literacy workshops.
Currently under way is a10-year comprehensive program and curriculum that provides “Access, Awareness and Empowerment” to guide youth in underserved communities on a pathway to leadership and help them make educational and career choices that match their passions and find their “SPARK.”
The organization reports it has served more than 50,000 young people from more than 25 countries to date and has galvanized a movement towards positive change in how young people of color perceive themselves and the world around them.
Under the theme “Next Gen Loading,” this year’s summit broached topics ranging from mental health, fiscal responsibility, professional development and access to technology, mentorship and opportunities for educational advancement and employment, with hundreds of students, parents, educators and like-minded individuals in attendance.
The summit’s organizers contend that this year’s edition comes at an important juncture in the history of Usher’s New Look and in popular culture and society, where young people are possibly facing more challenges than ever.
“In his Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers, President Biden expressed our nation’s commitment to students across the country,” Moore said.
Drawing attention to the president’s words that “Every student in America deserves a high-quality education in a safe environment,” she continued, “Yet, this promise of a safe, high-quality education was out of reach for many students long before the COVID-19 pandemic and could slip further away if we do not act collectively and with attention to equal opportunity for all students.”
Day one (July 21) of the Disruptivator Summit featured interactive physical activities and networking opportunities with a variety of partners and the annual Disruptivators Ball, a youth social with TikTok challenges, karaoke, scavenger hunt and musical performances.
The summit ends July 22, with interactive group workshops to expose participants to real-world skills while connecting them with like-minded peers, and a keynote conversation on Legacy Building and the Power of YOUth.