A fundraising drive named "25K in 25 Days" that supports The Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora at York University has far exceeded its goal, and the endowment fund will benefit from donations of more than $200,000.
The initiative, launched by Jean Augustine and Bridge for Change on Feb. 1, aimed to highlight the 25th anniversary of Black History Month in Canada by raising $25,000 in 25 days from community sources to match a $25,000 donation by Accenture Canada.
Augustine is a former MP and the first Black Canadian woman elected to the House of Commons. She is an advocate for social justice. Bridge for Change is an initiative to raise the remaining $1.2 million to fully fund the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora endowment at York University. Since 2007, with York and community support, $1.8 million has been raised thus far towards the $3-million goal.
During the 25-day drive, $26,665 was donated, bringing the total to just over $50,000. An additional donation of $50,000 was made by the Wes and Christine Hall Family Foundation, bringing the community donations to $101,655. York University announced it will match the donations raised during Black History Month, raising the total funds through the 25K in 25 Days campaign to $203,330.
“This is a proud moment for me – especially because we did this in Black History Month,” said Augustine. “The community and our corporate allies stepped up and their investment in the Chair will improve the education and the lives of Black students and their families.”
York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton congratulated the Bridge for Change committee on their "extraordinary efforts" in the success of the campaign.
"The Jean Augustine Chair has been an incredibly important part of the York community, with its unique focus and dedication to advancing scholarly research, programs, partnerships, and new opportunities for Black communities in Toronto and beyond," said Lenton.
Wes Hall, the executive Chair and founder of Kingsdale Advisors, challenged others with the means to meet or better his $50,000 contribution.
“On behalf of my family, we are proud to be able to contribute to funding that supports the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora at York University. Dr. Augustine has been a true trailblazer and instrumental in creating positive change for Black Canadians,” said Hall, who is also Chair of the Black North Initiative. “It is an honour to be part of this initiative to further advance the education and the lives of Black students and the overall enrichment of our community.”
At the age of 83, Augustine has raised $1.8 million in community donations for the endowment of the Chair. A total of $3 million is needed for it to continue in perpetuity. Accenture Canada is the first corporation to join Augustine with a significant contribution, and she is hoping that other allies will help her reach the $3-million goal.
“Diversity makes us stronger, smarter and more innovative, and that’s why Accenture is honoured to support Dr. Augustine – an inspirational force who continues to make an immense impact on the lives and education of Black and other racialized Canadians through research, policies and programs,” said Jeffrey Russell, president of Accenture in Canada.
This month’s $25,000 challenge was impactful as this is the 25th anniversary of Black History Month becoming officially recognized by the Canadian government – a motion that was single-handedly pushed by Augustine and received unanimous consent in the House of Commons.
The Jean Augustine Chair is one of only two university endowed Canadian Chairs dedicated to research and knowledge mobilization efforts in Black and other racialized communities. In recent years it has become an important research hub accessible to community agencies to actively inform policies and programs across Canada.
Carl E. James holds the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora in the Faculty of Education at York University. He is a professor in the Faculty of Education and holds cross-appointments in the Graduate Programs in Sociology, Social and Political Thought, and Social Work. He is also the University’s Affirmative Action, Equity and Inclusivity officer, and was the director of the York Centre on Education & Community (2008-16) which he founded and director of the Graduate Program in Sociology (2007-08). He was one of six advisors to the Ontario Minister of Education and Premier (2017-18).
To learn more or support the future of The Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community & Diaspora visit https://www.jacendowmentfund.ca.