Nearly 200 students from Fresno and Madera counties are expected to attend the West Fresno African American Youth Conference Friday in southwest Fresno.
The event, held in honor of Black History Month, will bring students from grades 7-12 to the campus of Fresno Westside Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The organization Helping Our Own Destiny is hosting the conference with the goal to provide support to underprivileged youth and encourage them to reach their education goals.
"Some of these kids simply need someone to talk to," HOOD founder Paul Copeland said.
The free event will provide educational workshops with topics including African-American history, community and family responsibilities, and how to cope with societal issues.
The conference will also focus on how to help students interact with different cultures within their community.
Copeland said that a lack of understanding between cultures can lead to violence, especially in west Fresno.
"We're trying to break the barrier," Copeland said. "We're losing too many of them to gang violence and racial issues."
Representatives from Fresno State, Fresno City College, Fresno Pacific University and vocational schools will be present with educational booths.
The conference runs 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. at the Mendinghall Better Living Center, 2750 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
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