Newport News, VA – On February 2, 2019, the brothers of Kappa Iota Iota Chapter, Third District, Omega Psi Phi, Fraternity, Inc. escorted 18 high school young men during the first ever RISE! Male Empowerment Conference: The Power of HIStory!  During the seven hour conference at Heritage High School, the club members of Young Men of Distinction (YMOD) were treated to the first conference of its kind, dedicated to providing information, and resources to equip male students in grades 8-11 for emotional, social, academic, and future success.

The YMOD participants were provided with the opportunity to network with other students and positive role models from across the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

Several community partners, including education leaders, mental health professionals, athletes, and others were on-hand to share and empower the young male students.  The conference included a diverse offering of experiences including a dynamic opening, panel discussion, breakout sessions, and the first ever RISE Cypher challenge!  This extraordinary event also included informative and interactive workshops for parents, guardians, and other caregivers on how to promote college and career readiness and how to best support youth development.

Discussion topics included positive self-identity, the influence of pop culture and media on male development, overcoming adversity, academic achievement, building and maintaining positive relationships, the power of vision and goal setting, mindset (overcoming mediocrity), personal branding, and mental health.  The empowerment conference was designed to address the needs of all males, while specifically referencing relevant issues such as academic and discipline disproportionality, violence, and mindset of male students.  The conference was also used to arm the young men with tools to combat common barriers that are counter to achieving their full potential, including:

  • unsatisfactory school attendance
  • discipline challenges, experience with law enforcement, etc.
  • at-risk for gang involvement or other negative behaviors
  • incarcerated or absent parent (male or female)
  • receive special education services
  • struggle or excel academically
  • lack of motivated (academics, student involvement, etc.)
  • leadership abilities
  • difficulty managing relationships
  • popularity or socially isolation


Omega’s turnout was strong as other local chapters Zeta Mu Mu and Alpha Alpha participated.  The collaborative effort reflected the true Omega spirit: KII and Zeta Mu Mu donated $750.00 to sponsor the event and to invest in local Omega mentoring efforts.  Through the efforts of Omega Psi Phi, hundreds of local young men were armed with powerful tools and resources that can help them build resiliency and self-sufficiency.


Submitted by:

Brother Rick Howell