TORONTO, ON – RBC has announced the first 20 inspiring recipients of its RBC Future Launch Black Youth Scholarship, a program designed to serve the unique needs of young Black Canadians navigating and preparing for the future of work.
Research continues to show that BIPOC youth face unique challenges and inequities when preparing for their future. Earlier York University research showed that 20 per cent of Black students dropped out of Canadian high schools – double the rate of White or other racialized students. For many, it is difficult to commit to learning when there is no pathway to prosperity ahead.
Informed by the insights and lived experiences of academic, business, and non-profit leaders from the communities that it serves, this scholarship is awarded to youth who identify as Black (15-29) who are Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or refugees entering grade 11 or 12 or who are enrolled in post-secondary education for the 2022-2023 academic year. This scholarship is valued at up to $10,000 per year, for up to four years and must be allocated to fund tuition and other academic/life expenses.
“After being in the transportation industry for seven years and losing my job during the pandemic, I realized that I needed to pursue my dreams of becoming a nurse,” said Jenell Parkes, 2022 RBC Future Launch Black Youth Scholarship recipient. “The pandemic allowed me to understand that I am ready, capable, and deserving of this opportunity. Now more than ever the demand for nurses is tremendously high which gave me even more of a push to follow my dreams. This scholarship will enable me to achieve those dreams.”
Jenell Parkes and Jemima Okanlawon, both 2022 Scholarship recipients – share their personal journeys and plans for the future. Read their stories here on RBC Stories.
Through an advisory committee of Black academics and youth-serving leaders, this scholarship was created by the community, for the community – ensuring it will meet the needs of the young people it is meant to support. Eligible students were nominated by one of 12 participating community partner organizations. Nominated students were evaluated by a selection committee comprised of Black leaders from academic, business, and non-profit backgrounds. Students awarded the scholarship funding will also receive access to additional resources in the form of mentorship, academic and career planning, tutoring, and internship/networking opportunities.
“Funding and advocacy through support programs like the RBC Black Youth Scholarship awards will establish a sustainable framework for Black youth to pursue higher education and skills training, ensuring their long-term upward mobility in our communities,” said André McDonald, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Alberta – a member of the advisory committee which helped to design the scholarship.
The Black Youth scholarship is made possible through donations from the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch – a 10-year, $500 million commitment to empower Canadian youth for the jobs of tomorrow. With a focus on networking, skills development, practical work experience and mental wellbeing supports and services, the initiative aims to help break down the barriers facing young people.
In 2020, as part of its Action Plan Against Systemic Racism, RBC committed to providing $50 million in focused funding through RBC Future Launch to create meaningful and transformative pathways to prosperity for up to 25,000 BIPOC youth by 2025, with investments in areas such as skills development and mentoring. RBC also allocated 40% of summer opportunities to BIPOC youth, with a focus on recruiting from Indigenous and Black communities.
Universities Canada, a national leader in scholarship management for more than 50 years, administers this program – and works in partnership with selection committees to award the scholarships. Eligible youth must be nominated by a participating community partner for this scholarship. To view the complete list of scholarship recipients, learn more or view full eligibility requirements, visit: rbc.com/futurelaunchscholarships.