July 20, 2016 -- Mayor Tom Henry today announced the Fort Wayne UNITED program. It’s a mayoral initiative designed to enhance opportunities, advance youth advocacy and help ensure the safety of all residents with a focus on African American men and boys.

Mayor Henry was joined at today’s announcement by criminal justice, non-profit, clergy, health, and education leaders, along with representatives from the Fort Wayne Police Department. For the past several months, this dedicated team has been working to make Fort Wayne the best community possible and move Fort Wayne UNITED forward.

Fort Wayne UNITED places two national efforts, Cities United and My Brother’s Keeper, into one program to make a meaningful difference with an emphasis on listening, input, letting voices be heard, and engagement.

The vision is for every black male in Fort Wayne to be respected and valued with an opportunity to reach their full potential. The mission is to advocate for and implement policies, practices, and procedures to ensure equity and opportunity for black fathers, brothers, and sons at home, work, school, and community through collaborative efforts.

Goals to lead to positive outcomes include engagement of black men and boys, the community, policymakers, philanthropic community, and data gathering.

“I’m encouraged by the innovative approaches being implemented to move our City forward in the right direction,” said Mayor Henry. “Now more than ever, we must come together as a community to trust and support one another. In Fort Wayne, we strive each day to be a safe and welcoming place as we work to be a leader in reducing violence among young people. It’s great to see individuals, families, community groups, and law enforcement united behind a cause to be supportive of efforts to meet the needs of every person who calls Fort Wayne home.”

Programming as part of Fort Wayne UNITED includes:

-Fort Wayne UNITED L.I.V.E. sessions (Listening to input and voices through engagement) – An effort to create a safe place for African American males to share their thoughts and concerns on a variety of topics including education, employment, and family.

-Fort Wayne UNITED L.I.V.E. forums – Quarterly meetings bring the Fort Wayne Police Department and African American males together to discuss perceptions, perspectives, and experiences.

-Fort Wayne UNITED Public Safety Academy training – In partnership with the Fort Wayne Police Department, African American males are exposed to real-life scenarios that allow them to experience training, experiences, and challenges that local law enforcement faces daily.

-Fort Wayne UNITED late night basketball program – This proactive effort will begin next month as a way to provide young people with positive activities and reduce the likelihood of engagement in unlawful activity.

-Fort Wayne UNITED Choose Success Initiative – African American males learn about the positive outcomes of good decisions and the negative consequences of poor decisions. Young people are exposed to hands-on experiences through the building trades and courtroom proceedings.

“We’re working to become a driving force for positive change,” said Iric Headley, director of Fort Wayne UNITED. “As we convene, collaborate, and coordinate efforts and services, we’re building a better Fort Wayne where every resident feels safe, valued, and supported in pursuit of a better quality of life and positive opportunities.”

Fort Wayne UNITED Committee members:
Terry Anderson, Just Neighbors Interfaith Homeless Network
Mike Armstrong, Millennial representative
Chris Cathcart, Fort Wayne UNITED co-chair and Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast
andré douglas pond cummings, Fort Wayne UNITED co-chair and Indiana Tech
Judge Wendy Davis
Christopher Guerin, Sweetwater
Iric Headley, Fort Wayne UNITED Director and City of Fort Wayne
Judge Dan Heath
Joe Jordan, Boys and Girls Club of Fort Wayne
Tamyra Kelly, East Allen County Schools
Josepter Mbuba, IPFW
David Nicole, United Way of Allen County
Debra Faye Williams-Robbins, Fort Wayne Community Schools
Dennis Rohrs, Fort Wayne Metals
Julie Sanchez, City of Fort Wayne
Mitch Sheppard, Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation
Orlando Smith, Millennial representative
Marlon Wardlow, Parkview Hospital Randallia
Derrick Westfield, Fort Wayne Police Department
Luther Whitfield, New Covenant Worship Center