Founded by Ricky Lewis of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Tau Tau Chapter, in Compton, Calif., the Omega Educational Foundation is a non-profit organization that emphasizes community development, mentorship, and character-building in young men ages 8 to 18 years old.

During the past 17 years, the Omega Educational Foundation has touched the lives of more than 3,400 young men in the Greater Los Angeles area.

More than 20 companies and community leaders have provided sponsorship assistance to the Omega Educational Foundation for its Youth Leadership Conference, making it one of the largest events of its type for young African American men.

This year, 300 young African American men are registered for the conference scheduled for Oct. 23, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Compton College, but attendance is expected to increase tremendously across the next five years.

“Because of the corporate sponsorships, community leaders and volunteers, we are able to have a very strong impact on the lives of young African American males in the community,” said the foundation’s Lewis. “These young people are thirsty for mentorship, and we are offering them an opportunity to make better life choices.”

The conference is focused on the development and redirection of young African American males. Nearly 120 men of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. from the Greater Los Angeles area will provide mentorship throughout the day to the youth attending the conference.

The theme for the free, day-long conference is “Choose the Right Role Model.” Workshop topics include “Choose the Right Role Model,” “No means No,” and “From My Space to Your Space.”

In addition, the foundation will host a free workshop for parents featuring community leaders discussing topics that affect the youth attending the conference.

“I was first introduced to the Youth Leadership Conference in 1995,” said former participant and current mentor Eddie Magee. “At the time, I was involved in Young Black Scholars of Los Angeles that was being organized by the 100 Black Men organization. Through that, I heard about the conference, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I was blown away. There were about 200 of us (young men) in the cafeteria at Compton College, and the Omegas were all dressed in suits and they surrounded us. I don’t know if it was intentional, but they all were professionals, and it was like they were showing us what we could become, if we stayed on the right track.

“I specifically remember Ricky Lewis and his demeanor. He addressed us all as young men and gave us this level of respect. Back at that time I was struggling with my self-confidence. I was self-conscious about my weight and my scars that I had from being burned at a younger age. I don’t know if it was instantaneous, but after that conference, I noticed a change in myself. I wasn’t self-conscious anymore, and I started to have more self-esteem and respect for myself.

Today Eddie Magee is a member the Omega Psi Fraternity Inc., an emergency room physician in Oakland, and returns to Compton every few years to be a mentor at the Youth Leadership Conference. Magee also is a group leader for the Omega Gents, a mentoring program designed to teach and encourage high school African American males to positively define, plan, pursue and achieve their life goals. The program is year-long and enrolls 15 to 20 young men at a time, providing them with services in academics, community service, social and athletic events, camping trips and college tours.

Magee has taught the young men about health, medicine, and education for the past two years, and credits the Youth Leadership Conference for having such a massive positive impact on his life.

The mission of the Omega Educational Foundation is to instill the principles of manhood, critical thinking, and personal and social responsibilities into young African American males and provide them with tools necessary for self respect, health, and wellness, community leadership and conflict resolution.

For more information, visit the Omega Educational Foundation at www.omegaeducationalfoundation.org.