Hamilton, Ontario, Canada — Hamilton-based charity Empowerment Squared has received a five-year, $806,400 Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. 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.
Empowerment Squared will use its YOF 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 a specific focus on the impact of streaming in schools, age-based placement, and other barriers within the formal education system.
The funding comes from YOF's System Innovations granting stream which invests in systems change work that's led by collaboratives. YOF grants provide capacity building supports to grassroots groups, community-based organizations, and collaboratives focused on improving the wellbeing of children, youth, and families facing systemic barriers. 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) is administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation on behalf of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. YOF provides grants and capacity-building support to grassroots groups and community collaboratives to improve the wellbeing of children, youth and families facing systemic barriers with a focus on Indigenous and Black communities. This year, over $13 million was invested through YOF to support 43 youth-led, parent-led and collaborative projects. OTF is an agency of the Government of Ontario and one of Canada's leading granting foundations. www.otf.ca
"Congratulations to all our local organizations who have received the Youth Opportunities Fund grant," said Andrea Horwath, MPP for Hamilton Centre recognizes the important role YOF funding plays in supporting local organizations directly working to advance Black and racialized communities in Hamilton. "This grant will directly support community-based organizations working to improve the lives of families facing systemic barriers in our community. We know how critical this work is and why it is needed. Thank you and once again for your leadership and congratulations."
This is a collaborative initiative that involves not only Empowerment Squared, but also the Somali Community in Hamilton, the Liberian-Canadian Organization in Hamilton/Niagara, Hamilton Children's Aid Society, Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, the Hamilton Community Foundation, Sudanese League of Hamilton, and the Chadian Women Foundation.