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Hamilton charity receives $800k to assist Black and racialized newcomer youth

Hamilton-based charity Empowerment Squared has been selected as an organization to receive funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Youth Opportunities Fund. With this funding, Empowerment Squared will work to strengthen the education system and outcomes for Black and racialized newcomer youth between ages 12-25 in Hamilton. This investment builds on Empowerment Squared’s success in achieving significant, innovative, and consistent improvements in educational outcomes for newcomer and marginalized youth since 2007.

Selected as part of the System Innovations Stream, Empowerment Squared will use this funding over the next four years to conduct research that informs and tests the School Readiness Academy model. The goal of this is to improve education outcomes with specific focus on the impact of streaming in schools, age-based placement, and other barriers within the formal education system.

The System Innovations Stream invests in systems change work that is led by collaboratives. The Youth Opportunities Fund believes that grassroots leadership is critical to ensuring that the redesign of systems will result in sustainable benefits for those most impacted by the system in focus. Changing a system to better serve youth facing barriers requires strategic and active participation from many stakeholders, including young people with lived experience.

“We cannot measure the success of Black and racialized youth by the outcomes we see, instead we must understand the obstacles they have had to overcome while trying to succeed and invest to erase the deficit,” said Leo Nupolu Johnson, founder and Executive Director at Empowerment Squared. “At Empowerment Squared, that is a core part of our mission, and the School Readiness initiative is designed to do just that.”

The Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) provides grants and capacity building supports to grassroots groups, community-based organizations, and collaboratives focused on improving the well-being of children, youth, and families facing systemic barriers. YOF has three granting streams, each with a different purpose and aimed at different groups: the Youth Innovation Stream, the Family Innovations Stream and the Systems Innovations Stream. The Ontario government is investing more than $13 million to support community-driven and youth-led projects to improve the well-being of children, youth, and families facing economic and social barriers.

Urbanicity’s Editor-in-chief Robert Cekan had the opportunity to speak with Empowered Square’s Leo Johnson in a recent podcast episode, which you can listen to below.

About Empowerment Squared

Empowerment Squared is a registered Canadian charity building a world where everyone is empowered with the tools and opportunities to thrive and contribute to society. They do this by empowering newcomer and marginalized youth and communities in Canada and across the world to succeed through educational programming, sports and recreation, scholarship and awards, and thought leadership. In 2020, Empowerment Squared celebrated 12 years of developing young leaders and building better communities, including assisting over 1500 newcomer youth and families with settling in Canada and beginning to give back to their community. Internationally, Empowerment Squared is building the transformational Liberian Learning Center and supports individuals and organizations in Ghana, Liberia, and South Africa.

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