2,500 Teen Leaders Descend Upon Dallas To Address Issues Facing Today's Youth

Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Aaron's, Inc. Host National Keystone Conference Encouraging Teens to Own Their Future with Special Guest Speaker Black-ish Teen Actress Yara Shahidi

17 Mar, 2016, 11:38 ET from Boys & Girls Clubs of America

ATLANTA, March 17, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, 2,500 teen leaders from 157 cities and five countries will descend upon Dallas to tackle youth issues head-on at the 49th Annual National Keystone Conference.  One of the largest youth leadership conferences in the U.S., the 2016 Keystone Conference is hosted by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) at Omni Dallas Hotel and presented by Aaron's, Inc. (NYSE: AAN).

The Keystone Conference will also feature a special guest speaker and conference ambassador -- award-winning actress, 16-year old Yara Shahidi, who plays Zoey on the ABC show Black-ish. When Shahidi is not acting, she is focused on being a humanitarian and social activist, inspiring today's youth to excel academically, volunteering at medical clinics and starting her own mentoring club.  Shahidi was also recently recognized by the N.A.A.C.P. for her commitment to service and scholarship.  Shahidi will be delivering the keynote address at the conference about how teens can own their individual path in life by owning their decisions and taking ownership in their community by playing an active role to make an impact.   

"I am excited to partner with Aaron's and Boys & Girls Clubs of America for the annual Keystone Conference this year," said Shahidi. "It's essential for teens to know that we're in this journey together and have resources readily available to help us own our futures and empower our communities."

In addition to hearing Shahidi's address, throughout the three-day experience, teens will have the opportunity to voice their opinions about the issues facing America's youth and share their inspiring visions for change. The theme of the conference is "Year of the Teen" to help teens gain a sense of hope and discover their inner power to make a difference in their lives, their Clubs and local communities.

Half of the 1,500 teens surveyed at last year's Keystone Conference admitted to feeling less hopeful about the future due to home life or life outside the walls of their local Boys & Girls Club. Without hope, teens are even more vulnerable to the forces that encourage poor choices, therefore, now more than ever BGCA is strengthening teen programming and increasing teen engagement in order to keep teen Club members on track for postsecondary education or a promising career. In 2016, BGCA aims to increase teen membership to 574,000 teen members (from 551,000 teen members in 2014) and then 640,000 teens by 2018.

"Our Clubs provide youth a respite from the pressures of school, family responsibilities or the danger of the streets. Specifically through our teen programming, we instill character and leadership skills that will set our teens on a path for success," said Jim Clark, president and CEO of BGCA. "The 2,500 teens in attendance are proven leaders in their Clubs, so we're confident they will serve as strong catalysts for change against crises facing youth adults and make smart decisions that will shape their futures and the futures of their communities.  Thanks to our partnership with Aaron's, our Keystone program places teens in the driver's seat to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential."  

For three days, teens will be immersed into an action-packed "Year of the Teen" conference itinerary filled with development workshops, professional mentors and inspiring role models focused on helping teens to create their own great future. 

"Together Aaron's and Boys & Girls Clubs of America aim to offer the nation's teens access to quality resources allowing them to be more informed, prepared and connected.  Our goal is to empower teens by helping them develop the necessary skills needed to tackle the issues they are passionate about in their lives and in their communities," said John Robinson, CEO of Aaron's, Inc.  "We're honored to be part of the 2016 National Keystone Conference, and we are proud to help Keystone teens own their futures and build the life they deserve."   

About Aaron's, Inc.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Aaron's, Inc. (NYSE: AAN) is a leader in the sales and lease ownership and specialty retailing of furniture, consumer electronics, home appliances and accessories, and currently has more than 2,000 Company-operated and franchised stores in 47 states and Canada.  Progressive Leasing, a leading virtual lease-to-own company, provides lease-purchase solutions through approximately 16,000 retail locations in 46 states.  Dent-A-Med, Inc., d/b/a the HELPcard®, is offered through over 1,400 locations and provides a variety of second-look credit products that are originated through a federally insured bank.  Aaron's was founded in 1955, has been publicly traded since 1982 and owns the Aarons.com, ShopHomeSmart.com, ProgLeasing.com, and HELPcard.com brands.  For more information, visit www.aarons.com.

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (GreatFutures.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, more than 4,100 Clubs serve nearly four million young people annually through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun, friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at http://www.bgca.org/facebook and http://bgca.org/twitter.


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SOURCE Boys & Girls Clubs of America