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National expert to headline Education Matters Institute

image of Steve Perry

Steve Perry, national education expert and contributor for CNN and MSNBC, will be the featured speaker for the 22nd annual African American Advisory Council Institute hosted by the Illinois State University School of Social Work and Center for Adoption Studies.

This event is open to the public and will take place Friday, June 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Bone Student Center. Registration is required.

This year’s institute, titled Education Matters: African American Foster Youth on the Path to Academic Achievement, Family Permanency, and Lifetime Well-Being, will gather national experts to share strategies which strengthen vulnerable families, promote educational achievement and build resilience among youth in foster care.

Education Matters will have an overarching focus of promoting social justice and reducing racial disparities within our nation’s child welfare and educational institutions,” said Associate Professor of Social Work Doris Houston. “Access to higher education levels the playing field for young people who would otherwise remain trapped in high-poverty, low-opportunity neighborhoods where they can never reach their full potential. In order for our students to succeed in higher education, we as educators must be prepared to address their social and emotional needs as an avenue for promoting academic success.”

Workshops will include the impact of social media in education, resources for caregivers that enhance education, identifying the signs of human trafficking, and support for children of military and veteran families. An afternoon “mega workshop” will feature higher-education experts along with current and former college students who share their perspectives on the higher education experience.

Featured speaker Perry is the principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Conn. Under his guidance, Capital Prep has seen 100 percent of its predominantly low-income, minority, first-generation high school graduates move on to four-year colleges every year since its first class graduated in 2006.

He is the author of Push Has Come to Shove: Getting Our Kids the Education They Deserve – Even If It Means Picking a Fight and an is Essence Magazine columnist. Perry is also the host of the TV One’s new series, Save Our Sons, which explores how family can be the problem and the solution for African-American boys.

Born into his family’s third generation of poverty on his mother’s 16th birthday, Perry believes that the success of a life is determined by where you end, not where you start.  It is this philosophy that inspired him to transform the lives of poor and minority children by providing them with access to a college education.

Other events at the institute will include a luncheon, multicultural vendors and artists, and a networking event from 5 to 7 p.m.

There is no cost for the conference, but registration is required to attend. Those earning continuing education units (CEU) will pay the standard fee. Registration information is available online, and due May 31.

The institute is sponsored by the Illinois State University’s School of Social Work and Center for Adoption Studies; the Illinois Permanency Enhancement Project (PEP) and Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Co-sponsors include Illinois State University’s College of Arts and Sciences, Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Office of the Provost and Northern Illinois University Center for Child Welfare and Education. 

For additional information, contact Houston at the Illinois State School of Social Work at (309) 438-3631.