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Initiative aims to address long-standing systemic disparities in Black Communities

Initiative aims to address long-standing systemic disparities in Black Communities

Since its inception in 2018, the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities (NABC) has been active in creating the conditions to address the long-standing disparities in Black Communities in Ontario and across Canada. NABC, in the Faculty of Education at York University, functions as a catalyst for collective wisdom and action to address systemic disparities that relegate Black communities to the periphery. Creating collaborative learning and capacity building opportunities to enable data and evaluation excellence in the Black community sector is central to this endeavour.

Building on the work of numerous Black community-based organizations, NABC is an initiative of the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University. The Network amplifies the Chair’s aims to advance access, equity and inclusivity to education through community engagement and collaborative action.

Constituted in part by agencies and initiatives funded under the Ontario Black Youth Action Plan, NABC  supports 70 agencies and works collectively to reduce education, employment and well-being outcome disparities of Black children, youth and families through seven distinct programs: Innovative supports for Black Parents, Stop Now and Plan Middle Years Program, Enhanced Youth Outreach Worker Program, Youth Opportunities Fund, Industry Led Career Initiative, Violence Prevention Campaigns Initiative and the Youth Mentorship Program.

“We deploy community of practices as a model to promote learning and to build capacity for systems change”, said NABC Director Amanuel Melles. “So far, we have two communities of practice: Youth Mentoring, and Data and Evaluation Capacity Building in the Black community sector”.

Pictured above: NABC session on Data and Evaluation Capacity Building Community of Practice held in October 2019 in Ottawa.

NABC continues to expand and work with numerous organizations across Ontario and Canada to strengthen the conditions for systemic changes through collaborative learning. NABC staff member Denise Challenger comments, "Working as a Network Weaver has been an exhilarating experience. It pushes me to find collaborative and creative ways for network members to build healthy connections, share resources, mobilize knowledge and self-organize in lived and virtual spaces. Each day offers me a new opportunity to map and strengthen relationships within the Black non-profit ecosystem."

Some of the initiatives that NABC has created/collaborated on include:

Leadership for Systems Change Series
NABC in collaboration with the Youth Opportunities Fund of the Ontario Trillium Foundation hosts a discussion series, “Leadership for Systems Change.”  During each knowledge sharing session, we discuss a text-based report or video presentation of a systems change thought leader. Our goal is to develop a shared understanding of how best to apply a system change framework to the issues that affect black children, youth and families in Ontario.

Black Excellence Interview Series
We often hear about Black bodies being profiled; in this series we profile Black excellence. We interview both individual agencies and community thought leaders asking them to share how their programs and initiatives promote Black excellence, positive identity formation and inclusivity in order to address anti-Black racism and other challenges facing Black communities.

COVID 19 & Black Communities Series
This series provide a platform for thought leaders, organizations, allies and grassroots groups in Black communities to explore the impact of the pandemic on our communities. It mobilizes knowledge to build capacity for collective action-oriented solutions. The Provincial Government recently announced one million dollars in additional funding for NABC to support Black organizations in their COVID-19 related emergency responses.

UN Decade of People of African Descent Capacity Building Program
NABC has provided extensive support to the development of national capacity fund for Black organizations across Canada that will be implemented for the next four years. This fund was announced by the federal Government in 2019 and will kick start in 2020.

“This is a very important initiative that promises to help address the issues we are facing at this time,” said Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora Carl James. “It is consistent with the goal of NABC.”

NABC has also launched a new website that houses a wealth of resources including COVID-19 related information; publications and reports related to youth education, employment as well as health and well-being.