March 01, 2021
The Ontario government is investing $6 million over the next three years to help Black children and youth achieve their educational and career goals by creating the new Student and Family Advocates initiative in Ottawa, Hamilton and the Greater Toronto Area. The advocates will provide community-based and culturally relevant supports to Black students ages 6-25 and act as advocates for Black families within the education system.
"Our government is committed to helping Black children and youth achieve their full potential. That's why we are expanding programming under the Black Youth Action Plan and creating community-based initiatives like the Student and Family Advocates," said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. "We are working directly with community organizations to ensure these advocates are in the best position to help students achieve their academic, career and life goals by helping them overcome barriers and access more resources within the school system."
As a result of numerous systemic and structural barriers, Black children and youth in Ontario are disproportionately experiencing more negative educational outcomes than their peers. Studies show Black students are more likely to be suspended or expelled and are less likely to complete high school or enter post-secondary education.
Beginning in the spring, Student and Family Advocates will work out of local organizations to provide specific supports tailored to the individual needs of Black students. Supports will include:
Working with students and families to develop a plan for achieving their goals
Attending meetings with teachers, guidance counsellors, and school administrators to discuss student progress
Developing trust-based relationships with participants and helping them build positive relationships with educators, student peers, and community members
Connecting students and families to resources and supports like community programming, learning opportunities, tutoring and mentorships, job placements and scholarship or leadership opportunities.
In addition, student advocates will provide leadership, advice and support to schools on anti-Black racism and work alongside community partners, participants and schools to amplify the voices of Black students and families to activate changes in Ontario's education system.
"Since I started in the role of Advocate for Community Opportunities in December 2019, I've consistently heard from parents, youth, and grassroots community groups that we need to build community capacity to navigate the education system and hold schools accountable," said Jamil Jivani, Ontario's Advocate for Community Opportunities. "The Student and Family Advocates initiative builds on the great work already being done in Black communities for years, by providing needed resources to those who work directly with students and parents."
The Student and Family Advocates initiative is part of Ontario's $60 million expanded Black Youth Action Plan which works toward eliminating systemic, race-based disparities by increasing opportunities for Black children, youth and families across the province.
The Ontario government is doubling funding for the Black Youth Action Plan by investing an additional $60 million over the next three years. Black Youth Action Plan programs are delivered by over 70 community-based and culturally-focused community partners and currently supports at least 10,800 Black children, youth and their families in Ottawa, Windsor and the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.
The Ontario government is investing $1.2 million over three years to help young Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned tech start-ups access the resources and tools they need to succeed in the province's changing economy. The funding will be provided through Ryerson University DMZ's Black Innovation Programs, which support Black-led businesses by connecting them with customers, capital, experts and a community of entrepreneurs and influencers.
The Premier’s Council on Equality of Opportunity was established in June to provide advice to government to help youth at risk overcome social and economic barriers and achieve success.
A 2020 review of the Peel District School Board found Black students are disproportionately subject to disciplinary measures, with Black students making up only 10.2 per cent of the high school population but representing 22.5 per cent of students receiving suspensions. A 2020 Statistics Canada survey showed that, across Canada, 94 per cent of Black youth ages 15-25 said they wanted to obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher level of education, but only 60 per cent believed that they could.
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