The best applications are begun well before 12/31. Start yours today!

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breathing life into columbus
through new ideas

February 23, 2019

5:02-8:00 pm

Columbus, Ohio

Questions? Need help? Contact David White at or 614-451-3736.

The 2018 O₂ Conference launched 8 inspiring ideas pairing them with incredible mentors and $9,000! 

For the latest news, please subscribe to the O₂ mailing list.

You may contact the O₂ Team directly at

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What is O2?

  • A way to get organized around the organic and together launch ideas that can breathe life into the real needs of our community.
  • It’s an inspirational Saturday evening event where middle and high school students 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 helps to fund the 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. $10,000 will be awarded to the presenters in just a few short hours!

  • If Kickstarter, Ted Talks, and Shark Tank had a baby that grew up in Columbus it would look like this event.


2019 THEME

Thrive: Connecting the community

We want to see our city thrive! So what’s keeping our neighbors in Columbus from connecting and thriving? One factor is that our communities are too often marked by divisions. What divisions do you notice? You’ve probably heard discussions on political, economic, or racial divisions. Does one of those resonate with you or is there something else you see holding our communities back? Maybe it’s divisions across the generations or simply across cliques at your school. Do you see any real gaps between anxiety and stability, violence and safety, or hurt and forgiveness? Maybe it’s a lack of people partnering together and the result is a duplication of effort and wasted resources. Is there a need for deeper connections within our families? Do we know our neighbors and experience their support or are we just living near each other? And then there is the role of tech in our everyday lives - simultaneously promoting connections and isolation. Are we wasting time and opportunities to connect? What bridges need to be built that could connect the community? If people, organizations or resources were further connected, what need would it address in Columbus? If you could get people pulling in the same direction towards a common goal, what would it be?

Consider the needs of your friends, your family, your neighborhood, your work or school. What strikes you? With a little support, what idea would you be excited about seeing come to life? The kind of idea that could bring lasting health to people’s lives. The kind of idea that values people not just the accomplishment of a program. Connections can change lives. It’s time for Columbus to CONNECT and then THRIVE


How It Works




Prior to Jan. 1, 2019 young people in grades 6-12 develop an idea and submit their application. Ideas from each age group will be selected to present at the conference. Teams typically fall into these two age groups but any combination of grades is welcome.

  • Middle School (6-8th Grade)
  • High School (9-12th Grade)
  • Individuals or teams of 2-3 people can begin the online application here starting on Oct. 1, 2018. For more details on the commitment and expectations, download the information packet.

    Applications must be submitted before Jan. 1, 2019.


    Friends and community members take their seats on Saturday, 2/23 and countdown to the inspiring O2 Conference which begins at 5:02 pm. The presenters share their ideas. The excitement builds as each group interacts with our tremendous O2 Panel of Mentors in front of hundreds of engaged listeners.

    When dinner and the presentations are complete, the Panel will take time to deliberate. Each of the panelists will give their input on how to allocate the $10,000 to the presenters. Finally, the panelists will choose one of the groups 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 groups and their mentors 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 listen to ideas, support young people, and vote for the ideas you want to see launched. Be inspired by how much middle and high school students care about their city. 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. Your ticket purchase covers your admission and a delicious box dinner!


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.





Middle School Application
(6th - 8th grade)


High School Application
(9th - 12th grade)




verb | \ ˈthrīv \

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


Project Innovation

Ilya, Madelyn, Teresa Rakowsky
with Charley Shin


The Underrated power of teenagers

Khadijo Abdirahman with
Madison Mikhail Bush



MaryGrace Osborn with David White


Take Off

Katie Overmyer, Claire Geistfeld, Maria Buffer with Stori Rex



Greta Schreiber and Gabrielle Shell
with John Ness



Wharton pain scale

Kota Wharton with Don Leach



Fitness group for women immigrants

Deika Ahmed and Sarah Khoury with Lisa Igel  Audience Award Winner!


Senior Prom

Elizabeth Weller with Taylor McClintock
Audience Award Winner!


2018 Mentors & speakers


Keynote Speaker

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

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Guest Speaker

Jane Leach
Executive Director, FutureReady Columbus
Founder of the Hilltop Preschool

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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

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Lisa Igel
Wellness Program Manager
Huntington National Bank

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Don Leach
Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP

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Taylor McClintock
President and Creative Director
G&P Productions, LLC

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O₂ Conference Director

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



 That exciting moment when the teamwork between the presenters and mentors began!

That exciting moment when the teamwork between the presenters and mentors began!

The first ever group of O2 participants and mentors have been working together for nearly six months. It has been exciting to hear about how each idea is progressing. They are definitely moving off the drawing board and into real life. For example, the team working on the Fitness Group for Women Immigrants secured a location and held their first swimming classes. Similarly, the team planning the Senior Prom has networked a number of nursing homes together so they can collectively attend their event which is scheduled for December. We’re excited about how these efforts are beginning to meet real needs in Columbus!

Check back here for more updates. You can hear more from these tremendous young people on Feb. 23rd.

One of the many incredible things overflowing from last year’s conference has been all the new relationships we’ve formed. I’m grateful for these new friends and partners who clearly care about people and Columbus.
— David A. White IV



Use the form below to contact us with any thoughts or questions you may have.
You can also email us directly at

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 are inspired by God's great love for people and this world so we won't be shy about caring for you.

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.

 A giant thank you to the caring and hard-working O2 Conference Team which includes Heather Peebles Buffer, Star Bradley, Howard Greene, Tim Krock, Elizabeth Weller, Jessica Porterfield, and David White IV.

A giant thank you to the caring and hard-working O2 Conference Team which includes Heather Peebles Buffer, Star Bradley, Howard Greene, Tim Krock, Elizabeth Weller, Jessica Porterfield, and David White IV.