Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to the Obama administration, and Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, will speak at The University of Toledo’s 37th annual Conference for Aspiring Minority Youth.
This year Toledo Excel, a longtime scholarship incentive program at UToledo, partnered with Owens Corning to offer the free event on Saturday, Jan. 30, for seventh- and eighth-graders, high school students and parents. The conference is virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Owens Corning was one of the original corporate supporters for Toledo Excel when we were founded 32 years ago. I could not be happier about us renewing our relationship in 2020,” said David Young, director of Toledo Excel and Special Projects.
“Their generous gift allows us to take an already successful conference to the next level. The quality of speakers and programming we can now offer students and the Toledo community is extremely exciting. We would be excited to have one of them and are greatly blessed to have both.”
Owens Corning donated $50,000 to support the conference.
“Owens Corning is fully committed to joining with our other community stakeholders to accelerate Toledo’s journey to be an inclusive, thriving community of excellence that achieves equity and justice for everyone,” said Leah Maguire, vice president of inclusion and diversity at Owens Corning.
“One of the critical paths on that journey will always be education, investing in our young people and supporting the goals of vital organizations like Toledo Excel.”
Established in 1988, Toledo Excel helps underrepresented students, including African, Asian, Hispanic and Native Americans, achieve success in college. Through summer institutes, academic retreat weekends, campus visits and guidance through the admission process, students increase their self-esteem, cultural awareness and civic involvement.
This year’s speakers have connections to two through lines of 2020: politics and race.
Jarrett is a senior distinguished fellow at the University of Chicago Law School and a senior advisor to the Obama Foundation. She serves as board chair of When We All Vote and co-chair of The United State of Women. Her New York Times bestselling memoir, “Finding My Voice: When the Perfect Plan Crumbles, the Adventure Begins,” was published last year.
Jarrett served as the chief executive officer of The Habitat Company, chairman and chief executive officer of the Chicago Stock Exchange, chairman of the Chicago Transit Board, deputy chief of staff for Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley, and practiced corporate, real estate and finance law for 10 years.
“Politics is very much on the mind of this nation with 2020 seeing such hotly contested races,” Young said. “Ms. Jarrett, with her wealth of experience as senior advisor to President Obama for eight years, is a perfect voice in this climate. She also has a passion for strengthening communities.”
Fulton has dedicated her life to transforming family tragedy into social change since her 17-year old-son Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman in 2012. Her book co-authored with Tracy Martin, “Rest in Power: The Enduring Life of Trayvon Martin,” shares the story of her son’s life and the rise of a movement that awoke a nation’s conscience.
Fulton worked for the Miami-Dade County Housing Development Agency for more than 25 years. A Miami native, Fulton graduated from Florida Memorial University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English.
“The tragedy Sybrina Fulton faced with the murder of her son Trayvon Martin is, unfortunately, the reality mothers in our community have faced at an alarming rate,” Young said. “Many of the students who will be in attendance have lost brothers or sisters, cousins, friends and classmates. Ms. Fulton can speak to that pain and, of course, the questions about race and its role in her son’s death and the aftermath.”
Details on how to register for the free, public conference will be released next month.