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May 12, 2018 | 4:32pm
Columbus, Ohio

Applications are now being accepted. Apply before the April 15th deadline!

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What is O2?

  • If Kickstarter, Ted Talks, and Shark Tank had a baby that grew up in Columbus it would look like this event.
  • It’s an inspirational Saturday evening event where 12-25 year olds present ideas that meet the needs of the Columbus community. People of all ages buy tickets to attend the event and hear from the presenters. They receive dinner and a portion of their ticket goes to fund ideas.

  • It’s a chance to hear from top-notch speakers and community leaders. It’s a way to receive feedback, mentoring and even funding for moving ideas into action. Over $8,000 will be awarded to the presenters in just a few short hours!

  • A way to get organized around the organic and together launch ideas that can breathe life into the real needs of our community.


Mentors & speakers


Keynote Speaker

Ryan Miller
President & Co-Founder, The 2nd & 7 Foundation
Partner, m2 marketing
Former Linebacker & Defensive co-MVP
OSU Football Team


Guest Speaker

To Be Announced

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Charley Shin
Founder and CEO of BIBIBOP
Asian Grill, Charleys Philly Steaks, and Solar Planet

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Madison Mikhail Bush
Founder and CEO of POINT and Director of Corporate Development at Gnome Diagnostics



John Ness
Chief Executive Officer,
ODW Logistics, Inc.

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Stori Rex
Volunteer Coordinator,
LifeCare Alliance



To Be Announced



To Be Announced



To Be Announced

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O₂ Conference Director

David A. White IV
Pastor, Families, Youth & Children 
Upper Arlington Lutheran Church


How It Works




Prior to the event, five ideas from each age group will be selected to present at the conference. The three age groups are:

  • Middle School (6-8th Grade),
  • High School (9-12th Grade), and
  • Young Adult (Ages 19-25).

Individuals or teams of 2-3 people can fill out the online application here. For more details on the commitment and expectations, download this information packet.

The application deadline is April 15, 2018.


The countdown is on to May 12th, 4:32 pm! The conference begins with an exciting keynote speaker sharing their story and this year’s theme. The fifteen presenters will break out by age groups (middle school, high school, and young adult 19-25) and share their ideas in the first round. Two finalists will be selected from each age group to present again later that evening in the final round. The excitement builds as the O2 Conference reaches its final round with our tremendous Panel of Mentors interacting with the finalists in front of hundreds of engaged listeners.

When the presentations are complete, the Panel will take time to deliberate. Each of the seven panelists has $1,000 to allocate. This money may be given to one finalist, or $500 may be given to two separate finalists. Finally, the panelists will then choose one of the finalists to serve as a mentor to their winning idea. The exciting conclusion to the evening includes an Audience Award alongside the mentoring and financial awards. The hope is that everyone in attendance walks away feeling like they’ve experienced a breath of fresh air. There are a limited number of tickets for this event and it is expected to sell out.


After the conference, the finalists and their mentor will work together for a minimum of six months developing their idea. This is one of the exciting elements that sets this event apart.



The O2 Conference is an event where the audience participates! Come support young people and vote for which ideas will receive mentors and funding. Share your thoughts on what you believe are the needs of our community. The hope is that everyone in attendance walks away feeling like they’ve experienced a breath of fresh air. There are a limited number of tickets for this event and it is expected to sell out. Money from ticket purchases covers your admission, dinner, and even contributes to funding these great ideas!


Financial support is always welcome. Together we can turn incredible ideas into reality across our city! If you're interested in donating to the O2 Conference, you can give by using the form below.



2018 THEME


verb | \ ˈthrīv \

To grow and develop. To flourish and be successful.
To progress toward a goal despite or because of the circumstances.

Thriving cities, schools, and neighborhoods are ultimately built on thriving families and individuals.

So what’s keeping people from thriving? As you look around, what do you notice about the needs people have? Needs come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they are material like food and clothing. Sometimes they are less obvious like mental and behavioral health.

Consider the needs of your friendships, your family, your neighborhood, your workplace or school. What strikes a chord with you? What needs to be transformed? With a little support, what idea would you be excited about seeing come to life? The kind of idea that could bring lasting health and transformation to people’s lives. The kind of idea that values individuals not just the accomplishment of a program. It’s always the right time to address the needs around us. It’s time for people to THRIVE.



Sometimes meeting a need doesn’t need a giant plan but instead a little thought and some real action. When a need hits you in the face, what do you do? Brush it off and move on? What if it won’t go away and keeps popping into your life? One night, Mae noticed a homeless person on the streets...

Mae with her Godsend Bags for the homeless.

Last winter my mom and I were driving home from Polaris Shopping Center, the air was frigid as we pulled into an intersection and saw a homeless man holding a cardboard sign saying, “I need help.” He didn’t look like the stereotypical “homeless type”. He had on nice clothes; he looked as if he could be one of my friends’ dads, which made him seem out of place holding the sign. It made me think that it must’ve taken guts for him to stand in the cold and ask for help… to lower himself to beg for help.

We didn’t have anything to give him and couldn’t stop on the busy road anyway so we kept driving. As we got further and further away, I started questioning my mom. “Where will he sleep tonight? How will he get food? Does he have a family?” I couldn’t help but feel guilt nagging at me. As we talked we got an idea. We pulled in at a Wendy’s and bought a $5 gift card. It was just enough for him to go inside and get something warm.

We made it back to the intersection just in time to catch him as he was walking away. A policeman had just told him to move along. I reached out the window and handed him the gift card and he looked directly into my eyes and said, “God bless you.”

I’m a teenager, I have limited abilities and resources, and I can’t easily change the world.  But I can share compassion with one person. And then one more.
— Mae

I don’t know why this struck me. I had never met this man before; didn’t know anything about him -  but still I felt a connection. I knew I had done the right thing.

This experience gave me the momentum to make Godsend bags - drawstring bags filled with items to bring encouragement and connection while meeting spiritual and material needs. People take Godsend bags with them and put them in their car. When they see a homeless person, they’ve got a ready-made gift to hand out the car window. I'm a teenager, I have limited abilities and resources, and I can’t easily change the world. But I can share compassion with one person. And then one more. I have been hoping that the people making these bags will experience the joy of serving our community. That the people handing out the bags will overcome the prejudices we have towards homeless people and those who are different from us. Finally, I hope that the homeless people receiving the bags will be encouraged and see that there are people that love and care about them.




Middle School Application
(6th - 8th grade)


High School Application
(9th - 12th grade)


Young Adult Application
(ages 19 - 25)



Use the form below to contact us with any thoughts or questions you may have.

Name *


Hosted by:

Upper Arlington Lutheran Church
Mill Run Campus
3500 Mill Run Drive
Columbus, OH, 43026



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Why does ualc host the O₂ conference?

UALC is transparently passionate about being and making followers of Jesus Christ. Living out our faith goes hand in hand with serving others in the name of Jesus. At the end of the day we take his message seriously. So, the O₂ Conference is an authentic expression of our faith, responding to the real needs of our community.

Investing in young people and their families is also a significant part of our history. No matter their age, we see them as capable difference-makers. We warmly welcome people from all backgrounds and walks of life to engage in this effort to love our city. We won't ask you to be someone you're not. We also won't be shy about caring for you and expressing how great God's love is - for you and this world.

The O₂ Conference is held at UALC’s Mill Run Campus at 3500 Mill Run Drive in Hilliard. The funding for the event and the financial awards are provided by UALC.