Reflection: The Rise and Dream Philly Teen Conference

YSI Teen Conference has been celebrating youth with a forum where they are heard and connected with each other, mentors, and Rise & Dream teen conference logoresources for more than 20 years. The conference began as an off-shoot of the health clinic at YES (Youth Empowerment Services). Now known as the Rise and Dream Philly Teen Conference, the last in-person meeting in 2020 boasted over 400 teens in attendance. In keeping with safety measures, 2021 held a special “Ten Teens in Month Ten” giveaway with the Tobias Harris Foundation, including a special tour of the shelter. In 2022 YSI partnered with Councilman Isaiah Thomas’ Basketball Camp in Mount Airy along with rapper, Eli Capella, Philly native Kyle Morris, and Project Positive. Rise and Dream Philly Teen Conference coordinator, Carla Johnson ensures that this conference is held and led by teens so that the content hits home and their messages are heard by their peers.

In 2014, boxer Bernard Hopkins was honored as the YSI Champion of the Year for his impact and give back to Philadelphia youth and populations in need. During this acceptance, speech, Hopkins immediately noticed a 14-year-old teenager in the front row who was obviously moved by his words reflecting on losing a parent to gun violence. Hopkins finished his speech and immediately went to embrace the young man and they spoke privately forming a special connection. Johnson later found out from the young man’s counselor that he had lost both parents to tragic gun violence and had been closed off to any kind of communication from their program until that moment with Hopkins. The bus ride home was the first time the boy opened up to anyone and his life was changed forever. The Rise and Dream Philly Teen Conference is excited to reopen its in-person doors in 2023, returning to Temple University’s Howard Gittis Student Center on Saturday, May 20 with the support of longtime partners, Anthony and Michelle Martin of the Urban Youth Racing School, Councilman Thomas and additional donor support.