Black communities, especially in North America, have faced systemic educational barriers. U of T Scarborough, committed to inclusive excellence, collaborates with Black communities on and off-campus to dismantle these barriers, championing an inclusive future and Black excellence within the University for youth in Scarborough and the Eastern GTA.
The following are some initiatives supported by the Student Success Fund that are designed to harness Black excellence at U of T Scarborough.
Imani Black Academic Mentorship Program: A Circle of Empowerment
The African proverb, “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” resonates with the core of the Imani Black Academic Mentorship Program (Imani). Established in 2005, Imani, meaning “belief” or “faith” in Swahili, aims to empower young Black individuals from marginalized communities by building enduring support networks. It bridges the academic gap between Black university students and high school students, creating a familial mentor-mentee bond. Besides academic aid, it addresses systemic barriers through Anti-Black racism workshops, networking opportunities, and “Day in the Life” events, providing a glimpse into post-secondary education. Throughout the pandemic, Imani addressed various challenges faced by Black youth in East Scarborough, like food insecurity and technology access, creating a safe learning environment. Many mentees, post-Imani graduation, return to engage in the program in a number of ways, continuing this nurturing cycle.
I hoped to create a safe environment for the Black students in Imani. It’s hard to find students to connect with, especially during the pandemic. And with the need that students have to find others that resonate with them, I wanted to be there to support them.
- Adelaide Adu Kwarko, Imani Mentor
U of T Scarborough is deeply committed to the sustained growth of the Imani program, its initiatives, and directly supports the staff positions and a significant portion of the program’s costs. The program relies on philanthropic contributions from donors such as Scotiabank (2017-present), La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso (2020-22), and individual donors, to enhance the quality of our offerings, provide direct support to mentors and mentees, and help offset program costs.
Transitional Year Program at U of T Scarborough (TYP@U of T Scarborough): Crafting New Beginnings
Acknowledging education as a catalyst for progress, TYP@U of T Scarborough facilitates individuals to reenter academia and pursue higher education. Embracing the principle of inclusive excellence, it welcomes students from diverse backgrounds, especially those facing educational barriers. The program actively recruits Black, Indigenous, LGBTQ+ students, sole-support parents, persons with disabilities, and individuals from working-class backgrounds. Applicants are assessed individually based on their barriers, motivations, and academic qualifications. Through university-level courses, workshops, and personalized support, TYP@U of T Scarborough provides mature learners a chance to redefine their academic pathways.
Black Student Engagement: Fostering a Sense of Belonging
Every student’s journey is influenced by the opportunities and challenges encountered. Students navigating systemic barriers along with academic pressures often feel overwhelmed. The Black Student Engagement program, under the Office of Student Experience & Wellbeing, directs Black students to essential resources, people, and support. It creates spaces for dialogue on various topics through weekly drop-in sessions, ensuring students not only survive but thrive academically.
Recently, the U of T Scarborough Black Alumni Network was launched to create a space for Black students to engage with Black alumni and receive guidance and support from them. Find out how you can become a part of the U of T Scarborough Black Alumni Network here.
Every initiative, every program, and every gesture of support toward advancing Black excellence is a brick in the wall against systemic barriers, paving the way for generations to come. With your support, U of T Scarborough is forging a world where dreams are accessible, where the colour of one’s skin isn’t a barrier but a testament to resilience, strength, and brilliance.