GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Valley State University leaders need help to improve the lives of African American men in West Michigan.

They are holding their first-ever Black boys and men symposium on June 9-10 at the Amway Grand Plaza.

Organizers said they want educators, first responders, community leaders and anyone else who works with Black guys to attend. Their goal is to teach them how to mentor, care for, impact and uplift Black boys and men.

Leaders told News 8 they want this symposium to help allies see life through a different lens and to stress the importance of community.

“This is about creating opportunities by making sure that the people who are surrounding this particular population are equipped with helping them be successful,” said symposium founder Dr. B. Donta Truss, Vice President for Enrollment Development and Education Research. “We believe we are creating a space where we can continue to grow and even get better at making sure that our Black boys and men are enrolled in college, and once they’re enrolled, they are retained.”

Dr. Truss said tickets are $350 and that price includes admission to the sneaker ball, a scholarship fundraiser. Anyone who only wishes to attend the ball will have to pay $100. Students may go to the symposium, but only adults are allowed at the ball.

Visit Grand Valley State’s website for more information about the conference.