FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Fort Wayne’s widely-embraced United Front Initiative will expand with the launch of United Front Youth.

A kickoff event was held Monday at the Parkview Mirro Center with Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Ph.D., described by the city as an “expert on issues of race, culturally responsive education, and diversity.”

The city started United Front after downtown was rocked in 2020 by two weekends of protest against the brutal police treatment of people of color such as George Floyd.

The initiative taught a shared humanity to foster racial equity, healing and unity. More than 170 businesses and organizations took part.

Now, the goal is to teach students a shared humanity without using guilt as the driving force.

“What we want to do with our youth is look at who we are and then look at who others are and then find the commonalities,” said Debra Faye Williams-Robins, Ph.D. and Deputy Superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools.

“How do we support each other and understand that we all have things that we’re grappling with? We all have high points and things that we can celebrate, but how do we help to understand better each other?”

Youth and family advocates will be invited to attend educational sessions in order to empower them with the ability to value diversity, assess their environments, and implement interventions that will enhance their inclusive cultures, motivating people to work together toward community shared goals. Those interested may register at unitedfrontinitiative.com

Monday, Sealey-Ruiz joined United Front to host its inaugural event for United Front Youth. The United Front Youth and Family Advocate Summit helped individuals navigate today’s climate while discussing Race, Equality, Inclusion and Belonging, by introducing them to the “common language of Shared Humanity.”

On Tuesday, United Front will host its quarterly keynote, again featuring Dr. Sealey-Ruiz. This keynote marks the first time United Front will share its stage with a national speaker. This will also be the first time all the presenters will be female. Local leaders such as Dr. Debra Faye Williams-Robins, Tamyra Kelly, Brenda Gerber Vincent, Lisa Givan, and Lanitra Berry will join Dr. Sealey-Ruiz on stage “to create an atmosphere that will allow participants to unpack the Archaeology of Self narrative even deeper.”

United Front will also present local community leaders with two prestigious honors: the United Front Community Ambassador and the Shared Humanity awards.