GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - Hundreds of people from several states are expected to visit Grand Rapids this weekend to attend a regional conference for an international African-American fraternity.
The Grand Rapids Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. will host the 66th Northern Province Council at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids Township.
The 4-day conference started Thursday, April 4th and it will go through the 7th.
Sean Huddleston, general planning chairman and president of the Grand Rapids Alumni Chapter, says the fraternity's primary goal is to promote achievement in the different regions the fraternity is located.
"One of the primary focuses we do have is to try to transform communities where we live and work and ultimately serve," he said. "Our focus is to come here and find ways to be able to support and serve the community here in West Michigan, particularity in Grand Rapids.
Huddleston says one of their strongest commitments is to that of youth. Kappa Alpha Psi, Inc. has a national initiative called the Guide Right Initiative. Fraternity members use that to reach out to and mentor young boys.
"The Kappa Leadership Development League is for high school males, 9th grade through 12th grade. We have 3 primary focuses with them, academic achievement, community service and leadership development," he said.
More than 100 of those high school students will attend the conference. One will walk away with a college scholarship.
Youth members will participate in workshops and activities throughout the weekend that focus on personal and academic achievement.
"We will talk about college preparation at that and have different seminars with our seniors as well about retirement and retirement savings. Primarily we will focus on our business as how we as an organization can move forward in this region," said Huddleston.
The fraternity first held the annual conference in Grand Rapids 6 years ago. Huddleston says it was such a success Experience Grand Rapids worked closely with the organization to bring it here again.
"We are so thankful and we know we have a lot to offer," said Huddleston. "Economically you are going to see people that will be dining in the different restaurants, shopping in the different shops and at the malls."
"We are bringing over 300 people. We are bringing a significant amount of revenue to the hotel but also encouraging everybody to go out and experience Grand Rapids and go downtown," said Huddleston.
Attendees will include undergraduate and alumni members of the fraternity and the Kappa Silhouettes, an auxiliary organization that includes the members' spouses.
The official opening of the conference will take place Friday at 7:00 p.m. with a public meeting. Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell and Kentwood Mayor Richard Clanton will bring welcome remarks.
The evening will end with a free celebration beginning at 9:00 p.m. in the hotel's ballroom. Both of Friday's events are open to the public.