About This Event

The Poverty Conference is a one day conference that highlights a nationally recognized keynote speaker whose work and expertise reflects issues of local community. The Poverty Conference brings community partners, educators, professionals and citizens together to create common conversation, strategies and vision regarding poverty. We hope to increase awareness and spur action among our community. Since the conference began, we have seen partnerships grow, development of new programs and services for our community and city wide initiatives to address homelessness. 

Keynote Speakers:

Jeff Henderson headshotJeff Henderson inspires with his emotional journey of redemption from the streets to the stove, sharing real-life strategies to help you achieve your dreams, no matter your stage of life. From humble beginnings in South Central Los Angeles, to life as an imprisoned drug dealer, and then as an award-winning celebrity chef and best-selling author, Jeff is a role model for anyone who needs the encouragement to reinvent their life. Since he discovered his passion and gift for cooking in the unlikeliest of places – prison – Jeff has completely turned his life around, and today serves as a popular and powerful voice for self-transformation. The creator of Food Network's reality series, The Chef Jeff Project, host of “Family Style with Chef Jeff,” and the star of the nationally syndicated series, Flip My Food with Chef Jeff, he is also the best-selling author of two books. From overcoming hardship to identifying one’s personal talents, Jeff reveals his hard-knock yet transformative life lessons and the secrets to rising above and realizing your potential. His dynamic and engaging presentations help audiences discover their hidden business aptitudes, make life-changing decisions, and gain a new foothold on the ladder to success.

Fredi Lajvardi HeadshotFredi Lajvardi: kindles your innate sense of ingenuity with his remarkable firsthand account of how he transformed a group of high school students into a national champion robotics team. 

Fredi captivated the country when he led his team of disadvantaged teenagers in a university-level underwater robotics competition, where they defeated leading schools, including top-ranked MIT. Their story inspired the acclaimed documentary Underwater Dreams and was also adapted into the major motion picture, Spare Parts, starring actor and comedian George Lopez as Fredi. His award-winning Falcon Robotics team is also featured in the 2017 film Dream Big.

Honored with numerous awards for his spirited passion for teaching, Fredi continues to serve as a prominent advocate about the importance of STEM education nationwide.

With humor and compassion, Fredi brings audiences on his inspiring journey, illustrating the need to embrace diversity and invest in people to help others realize their potential. His incredible real-life tale equips you with the real life encouragement to maximize your own potential and to work together to solve complex problems.

Nationally Recognized STEM Educator & Subject of the Critically Acclaimed Documentary, Underwater Dreams, and Major Motion Picture, Spare Parts as well as the IMAX film Dream Big

Improbable to Unstoppable
Fredi Lajvardi shares with audiences nationwide a first-hand account of the story that brought renewed national focus to S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and inspired the critically acclaimed documentary Underwater Dreams, as well as the major motion picture, Spare Parts, starring comedic legend George Lopez.

With humor and passion, Lajvardi reveals the simple secrets to his national champion robotics team's unprecedented success, and imparts to audiences the same wisdom, spirit of inventiveness, and determination that transformed an improbable group of disadvantaged Hispanic teenagers into an unstoppable national powerhouse. His heartfelt presentation captures the imagination, maximizes potential, and sparks the creativity in all of us.

Event Schedule

Registration: Opens at 7:00 am (Belcher Lobby)
Welcome and Speaker Jeff Henderson: 8:00 am (Belcher Auditorium)
Break & Book Signing: 9:30-10 am
Speaker Fredi Lajvardi: 10:00 am (Belcher Auditorium)
Break & Book Signing: 11-11:30am


School groups

Call the box office to order your tickets.
10am-5pm Monday-Friday.


  • Tuesday, August 13, 2019 8:00AM

Tickets on Sale to the Public:

  • Monday, June 24, 2019 at 10:00AM


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