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Step Forward to host Men's Elevation Conference

Step Forward, the state’s anti-poverty agency for Cuyahoga County, is proud to announce that it will host a first-of-its-kind conference just for men.

The Men’s Elevation Conference is described as a one-day event that will ignite a passion for growth through education, motivation, and celebration. Topics will include financial literacy, entrepreneurship, mental wellness, fatherhood and marriage and the importance of civic engagement.

“Step Forward’s mission is to propel educational attainment and economic self-sufficiency for multiple generations in Cuyahoga County,” Derek Cluse, Step Forward’s Chief of Staff and the Men’s Elevation Conference Chair, said. “With this as our mission, we must expose community members to a differentiated education that inspires them to take a quantum leap from poverty and dependence to self-sufficiency. This is why I was inspired to create the Men’s Elevation Conference.”

Speakers will include LaRese Purnell, the founder of CLE Consulting Firm and The Real Black Friday, Archie Green, a well-known Hip-Hop artist and the founder of Peel Dem Layers Back, Al Grimes, the Director of Cuyahoga County’s Fatherhood Initiative and Jason Lockett Senior, the founder of the Breadwinners Academy.

The Men’s Elevation Conference will also host a civic engagement panel. It will feature Jerry Primm, Strategy Consultant for CEO 360, Inc., John M. Hairston, former District Director for HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge, and Andrew T.M. Newsome, Vice President of ScaleCo. Step Forward President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Jacklyn Chisholm, will moderate.

“The men who attend will learn and be motivated by accomplished professional leaders and pillars of the community,” Cluse said. “They’ll also have the opportunity to network with men from all walks of life who want to step forward and elevate their contribution to their families and community.”

The Men’s Elevation Conference will be free to attend. Step Forward said it is exploring how it can remove barriers such as transportation and childcare challenges. Updates will be posted on the agency’s website.

The Men’s Elevation Conference, presented by Step Forward, is scheduled for Saturday, April 29th. The conference will begin at 10:00 a.m. and conclude at 2:00 p.m.

The agency is also looking for sponsors. Businesses, organizations and individuals who would like to get involved can do so through Those who donate at least $1,500 will receive preferred seating at the conference. The agency is also looking for in-kind donations.

“Ultimately, it is my hope that everyone walks away from this event with momentum and purpose and that we have the privilege to host this again, but even bigger and better year after year,” Cluse concluded.

For more information and to register for the Men’s Elevation Conference, click here.

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