NBA grants $500K to Toronto organization to build economic prosperity among Black Canadian youth

Deangela Provo knows what it is like to play on an uneven pitch.

“I think some of the barriers black teens face in finding employment – and meaningful employment – are resources,” the 17-year-old told Global News.

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The Toronto teenager is one of many black youths in Canada facing social and economic barriers – barriers that proponents say are rooted in systemic racism. “Many communities lack the resources and accessibility for youth – sometimes it can be due to distance or affordability if fees apply.”

Fees for organized sports, for example, or for training, but a new National Basketball Association (NBA) program aims to help black youth break down barriers to success.

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“Food insecurity, housing, you know, when we look at the reform of social assistance – that has to happen,” said Agapi Gessese, managing director of the Center for Vocational Training Promotion (CEE) for young black workers. The organization’s mission in Toronto is to help black youth in priority neighborhoods become financially prosperous.

“At the political level there are so many obstacles that prevent our black youth from advancing,” said Gessese.

A snapshot of the labor market from Statistics Canada, based on a three-month average through May 2021, shows that there are racial differences in employment rates – with 26 percent of black youth in this country unemployed – almost twice as high as that of their non-black counterparts (14th , 8 percent). Black youth are also at a disadvantage when it comes to competing for and accessing meaningful employment, with data from January this year showing that a third (33.2 percent) of black Canadians live in low-income households – almost double the rate of invisible Canadian minorities (16.6 percent).

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To change the game and fill the racial wealth gap, the NBA Foundation – the league’s first charity – is giving a $ 500,000 grant to the CEE Center.

“We know that all too often our black youth do not have the skills development, meaningful employment, mentoring, and the like,” said Greg Taylor, executive director of the NBA Foundation.

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2:03The youth organization supports the Black Lives Matter movement by writing fonts

The youth organization supports the Black Lives Matter movement by writing texts – June 10, 2020

“The purpose of this fellowship for CEE is really aimed at these results. We know they have an excellent reputation for preparing and placing young colored people in meaningful employment and we look forward to working with them. “

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Gessesse says the financial boost will play a vital role in improving the future of racist youth, particularly in Toronto and Montreal.

“Black and indigenous communities are overrepresented in the wrong places, and we want to turn this coin over,” said Gessese. “We want to be represented in the right places, we want to be represented in management, we want to be represented at board level, we want to be represented in management, in IT.”

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The CEE Center will manage the grant in partnership with MLSE LaunchPad in Toronto and DESTA Black Youth Network in Montreal to support black youth. This includes providing personal development and skills training in industries such as business, technology, art, and sports.

The scholarships are used to fund education and opportunities that Taylor says lead to sustainable jobs.

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“What has happened historically is that our young people from this community end up in retail, hospitality or healthcare and every job is an honor, please don’t get me wrong – but we know that these industries are hyperlocal and extreme are prone to. ”“ Taylor said.

The grant will also be used to increase full-time employment in the sports and leisure sectors through MLSE LaunchPad’s Leader-in-Training (LIT) program – a program that has already changed Provo’s life.

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“MLSE prepared me for the world of work because I now have a job at MLSE on their members’ service team,” said Provo.

“[The Leader-in-Training program] was a really motivating experience for me because it showed me how many jobs there are with people of my skin color – and there are also a lot of women-led jobs where women take on roles in sports, and that was very empowering for a boy Woman like me. “

While grateful for the NBA’s investment in her program, Provo urges other Canadian organizations to put their money where their lips are.

“Without organizations like the NBA and what they give back to the communities, we wouldn’t have programs like the LIT program,” Provo said. “We need more people who are spending money to invest in the young churches and the young people in the churches because we are the future.”

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