As our nation and city grapple with violence, young Philadelphians continue to be the light that shines, illuminating a way forward with their innovative ideas, hope in each other and the future, and faith that the status quo can and will change if everyone does their part.

In honor of Gun Violence Awareness Month this past June and in an effort to create safe, healing, and joyous spaces for young Philadelphians, the Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement (OYE) and the Office of Black Male Engagement (OBME) worked together with community leaders and partners on several anti-violence initiatives. 

Future Now Summit

On June 24, OYE and OBME hosted the Future Now Summit at Girard College in partnership with a number of incredible community organizations to elevate the voices and work of anti-violence advocates in Philadelphia. 

The Summit featured a city and community resource fair including representatives from the Office of Homeless Services, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, the Office of Violence Prevention, the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual DisAbility Services, Community College of Philadelphia, and PA CareerLink. It also included information about job opportunities, free play basketball hosted by Temple University’s Men’s basketball team, food and music, and a youth-focused panel discussion.

Panelists included Manny215, Founder of What I Wish I Knew Foundation, Zarinah Lomax, Founder of Apologoues LLC., CJ Wolfe, Founder of Immortal Visions Studio, David Oliver, Human Relations Representative at the Philadelphia Human Relations Commission, Youssouph Ndiaye, Founder of Somebody Gotta Do It, DeAngelo Harris-Rosa, Deputy Director of Office of Violence Prevention, and Captain Michael Goodson, Philadelphia Police Department. Panelists shared stories of overcoming personal tragedy, blueprints on how to affect change through organizing, and action steps on how residents can come together to co-design plans for safer communities.

Check out a Video from the Future Now Summit | Credit: Fetty Visualz

Milano Di Rouge Gives Back

On June 24, OYE and OBME partnered with Milan Harris, Founder and CEO of the globally successful streetwear brand Milano Di Rouge, to host a gun buyback event in the 22nd Police District in North Philadelphia, one of the city’s most at-risk communities. Milan Harris donated $10,000 toward these efforts.

“As a Philadelphia native, I have seen firsthand the devastation caused by gun violence in our city. I have been to more funerals caused by gun violence than weddings. We have to do the work to help get guns off the streets. We must also provide hope and resources to young people who often get into a life of crime because their environment gives them limited options to escape poverty and provide for their families.” – Milan Harris

Milan Harris started her brand with two t-shirts and a lot of faith in herself and her vision, understanding first hand how positive affirmation and intentional investment can help change trajectories, especially for young people living in historically marginalized and under-resourced communities.

Read more about Milan Harris.

PHL Youth Weekend 

On June 3, OYE, OBME, the Philadelphia Youth Commission, and the Culture Shifters Collective hosted a weekend of fun in an effort to shed light on the importance of combating gun violence. Together, they led the first PHL Youth Unity Walk. 

During the event, the Philadelphia Youth Commission, Culture Shifters Collective, student leaders, and their allies took over North Broad Street, walking from Temple University to City Hall where they hosted a resource fair with youth-serving community partners, and gave inspiring remarks on the importance of youth voice as the City works to design anti-violence strategies.

Beyond this signature event, this incredible group of young people have been meeting monthly throughout the winter and spring to identify issues that matter to them most. They have engaged in deep conversations with Mayor Kenney about gun violence and have provided valuable insight and solutions to City Councilmembers.

Video from PHL Youth Unity Walk | Credit: D. Ibrahim (Youth Commissioner)

OBME’s Philly Youth Gaming Tournament

The same weekend, OBME  and their 10th-grade intern from Cristo Rey, Byshir Brunson, co-designed the Philly Youth Gaming Tournament in partnership with Local Host, the leading gaming and esports center in the area. 

The purpose of this event was to promote positive engagement through gaming while addressing the critical issue of violence prevention in Philadelphia. About 30 young people came out and spent the afternoon eating snacks, playing Super Smash Brothers, and having a blast with their peers.

Upcoming community engagement events:

Brothas Stroll for Black Men’s Health | July 15 | 11 a.m. | Philadelphia Art Museum Steps

Join OBME for the 10th Brothas Stroll in collaboration with the Mayor’s Commission of African American Males, Mayor’s Office of Youth Engagement, the Department of Public Health, and DBHIDS’s Engaging Men of Color.

The Brothas Stroll is a neighborhood-based walk for Black men and boys to connect with each other, family, friends, and neighbors, and to raise awareness about Black men’s health. This month the Brothas Stroll Health Walk will take place at the Art Museum and Schuylkill trail to bring Black males, their families, and the community together.

Learn more and sign up!

Take Our Hope That Lights The Way Survey

In collaboration with Temple University partners, OBME has also developed a survey to gauge residents’ sense of safety and learn what brings hope. The Office recognizes that a survey is not a solution to gun violence, however, it can provide honest resident feedback that can be helpful in lighting a path forward for the city of Philadelphia. 

Take the survey!

Attend the Hope That Lights the Way Premiere Screening event on July 28!

On July 28, OBME will be hosting a Night of Hope at the Franklin Institute for the premiere of A Hope That Lights the Way. Along with the film screening, attendees will enjoy dinner and have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session with the film makers!

RSVP for the Hope That Lights the Way premiere event!