Toronto is taking new steps forward in dismantling anti-Black racism in public schools. The Toronto District School Board has announced that they will begin funding for a Centre of Excellence for Black Student Achievement. The concept is the first-ever in Canada, with the goal of promoting academic success and dismantling systemic racism in public education. 

The centre will focus on providing resources for Black students to navigate through the school system, with a focus on anti-oppression and anti-Black racism education and mentorship. 

According to a news release from the TDSB, the goal of the initiative is to "focus on academic success and experiences of belonging of Black students."

The project will work towards supporting student achievement by providing easily accessible resources for things such as scholarships, networking and mentorship for navigating racism. 

Policy changes, providing annual accountability reports, and helping students to deal with complaint processes will all be part of the initiative, according to the statement.  

TDSB director of education, John Malloy expressed his support for the centre in a tweet.

"The new Centre of Excellence will provide another way for us to not only confront anti-Black racism, but to be more accountable to Black students and their families," he wrote.

According to the statement, all trustees unanimously voted in favour of funding the project.

In a phone call with a TDSB rep, Narcity learned that elements of the centre are expected to be up by the fall, after it goes through a formal budget process. 

There are expected to be about 20 staff, which will range from social workers, child and youth counsellors as well as graduation coaches.

All of them will be focused on "identifying the ways in which anti-Black racism is operating in TDSB and offering possible solutions to eradicate it."

"The TDSB has a number of supports and initiatives across the system focused on supporting Black students, however, the existing efforts are not enough," said Robin Pilkey, chair of the TDSB.

"We must continually reassess our progress toward the eradication of anti-Black racism and hold ourselves accountable for meaningful change."

According to the TDSB, the concept of the Centre of Excellence For Black Student Achievement was proposed two years ago by the Enhancing Equity Task Force, before it was approved this month.

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