The YAAACE (CSI) Community School Initiative / (SEP) Supplemental Education Program is predicated on the overwhelming need to edify and build the capacity of Black youth in North West Toronto (Humber River- Black Creek constituency, the Jane and Finch community) and eventually create an evidenced based model that can be replicated nationally across Canada as an alternative to educational attainment models for Black and marginalized communities.
The TDSB Research and Information Services Department has provided us with astonishing data that speaks to the attrition rate of Black boys in particular those from poor and racialized communities in the North West Quadrants of the city of Toronto. The Humber Blackcreek, York South Weston and Jane and Finch Communities have some of the lowest achieving schools in the province of Ontario as per the Fraser Report and the TDSB Learning Opportunity Index. Various reports have identified that the Jane-Finch community has the highest concentration of youth gangs in Canada. The University of Toronto and officials from the City of Toronto have developed the Youth Crime Risk Index, this tool identifies neighborhoods with a high risk of youth gang activity. For over a decade, YAAACE’s programs and services provided educational and social infrastructure with a mandate of circumventing the academic attrition and struggles young people face navigating the conventional education system. Under-served and marginalized Black youth in West Toronto face youth violence, polarization, gang culture in and in many instances documented symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Youth Association for Academics Athletics and Character Education (YA.A.A.C.E) recognizes the correlation between educational attainment and gang involved youth. Young people who are labeled as N.E.E.T (not engaged in education or training) are vulnerable to criminalization, incarceration and violence. “Closing gaps in educational attainment and achievement for some of the most vulnerable constituents of the communities we serve is imperative.” – Y.A.A.A.C.E