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Columbus Selected To Host 2018 National Urban League Convention

Grant Walters Grant Walters Columbus Selected To Host 2018 National Urban League ConventionPhoto by Walker Evans.
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Major announcement revealed during Columbus Urban League's 40th annual Empowerment Day, along with honors for Mayor Michael Coleman and Franklin County Commissioners

On Monday, November 2nd, the Columbus Urban League’s 40th annual Empowerment Day convened to recognize community members and entities who have advocated for social justice and equality among the city’s families — especially for those who struggle financially.  According to the organization’s website, this year’s Empowerment Day theme, Achieving the American Dream 4All, “spotlights our community’s commitment and success in helping low-to-moderate income individuals and families improve their personal financial security and broaden their access to economic opportunity and the American Dream.”

A focus of this year’s event is CUL’s 700 Credit Score Initiative, a campaign designed to create resources and support networks to help individuals and families with lower incomes to improve their creditworthiness.  “We know how a person’s credit score affects their ability to secure essentials like employment, safe housing and affordable insurance,” explains CUL President and CEO Stephanie Hightower. “A 700 Credit Score Community means we have secured greater and more widespread financial stability and created new, potential-packed emerging markets. This can be Columbus.” CUL has already built relationships with local banks and financial institutions to offer credit counseling and money management workshops in Columbus’ core areas.  Data provided on their website estimates they have assisted close to 1400 individuals over the past year through education and advocacy for those exploring home ownership, foreclosure prevention, or the securing rental property.  CUL claims that over a third of those who received home buyer guidance through their programs became successful property owners, while about 700 individuals and families were saved from foreclosure or eviction.

Monday’s proceedings also featured a keynote address by John Hope Bryant, founder, chairman and CEO of Operation Hope – America’s first non-profit social investment banking organization.  He has been recognized as one of TIME Magazine‘s “50 (Leaders) for the Future”, and is the author of the bestselling book How The Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding The Path to the Middle Class.  Operation HOPE is estimated to have reached nearly 2.5 million people since its inception in 1992, channeling approximately $1.8 billion in capital toward underprivileged communities across the country.

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and Franklin County Commissioners Marilyn Brown, Paula Brooks and John O’Grady were this year’s recipients of the Honda Empowerment Award for Excellence.  Mayor Coleman was recognized for the co-creation of CUL’s African American Male Initiative in 2007 – which has continued to effectively serve the community through health and wellness education, parenting skills development, ex-offender reintegration support, alcohol and drug prevention, and neighborhood violence intervention.  Commissioners Brown, Brooks, and O’Grady were recognized for their ongoing work with CUL to bolster workforce development and financial education efforts to help area residents decrease their reliance on social assistance and move toward self-sufficiency. Hightower summarized the collective achievements of the honorees: “The work of Mayor Coleman and our County Commissioners has allowed (CUL) to empower individuals and deliver transformational services with integrity, innovation and collaboration.”

Marc Morial, President of the National Urban League, appeared in a recorded announcement to declare that Columbus had been chosen to host its convention in 2018 because of its status as “a diverse, young 21st century city with strong leaders, and the open heart and spirit necessary to offer real opportunity to all.”

More information about the Columbus Urban League’s Empowerment Day can be found on its website. Learn more about CUL’s ongoing initiatives and involvement opportunities here.

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