CEE is an esteemed legacy initiative of the Youth Challenge Fund, established in 2006 in response to the alarming rise of youth violence in Toronto, notably marked by the “summer of gun.” Dr. Kofi Hope founded the organization in 2012 and served as the Executive Director until 2018, passing the torch to the current Executive Director, Agapi Gessesse, who spearheads our ambitious efforts to scale the organization. In 2013, Shereen Ashman laid the foundation for our program model and the esteemed CEE Essentials curriculum, which have become integral pillars of our organization’s success.
As we proudly celebrate our 10th year of programming and service to Black youth in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals has been at the forefront of introducing groundbreaking programs within industries that face labor gaps across Canada. Our innovative initiatives span sectors such as Finance, Social Services, E-Trades, Hospitality, and Cybersecurity. Through unwavering dedication, we have guided and supported 492 young individuals to successfully graduate from our programs, boasting an impressive retention rate of 96%.
Recognized as a trusted partner, CEE has forged meaningful collaborations with grassroots and incorporated non-profit organizations within the GTA, all sharing a collective vision of uplifting the Black community. Our commitment to fostering innovation and knowledge-sharing led us to establish the Black to the Future Community of Practice. Furthermore, our renowned CEE Essentials curriculum has not only been embraced by fellow non-profits within Ontario but has also extended its reach to neighboring provinces such as Quebec and Alberta in Canada, as well as Houston, Texas in the United States.
Over the past decade, CEE has cultivated strong relationships with funders, employers, unions, corporations, and collaborative partners who have become unwavering allies in our mission. Together, we tirelessly work towards ensuring the success, social well-being, and economic prosperity of our members.
As we embark on our 11th year of programming in the 2023-2024 fiscal year, CEE remains steadfast in its unwavering commitment to providing pathways of opportunity for young Black professionals. We are dedicated to breaking stereotypes and empowering every individual with the transformative belief that “I cannot” becomes an empowering “I can” for our youth, their families, and the wider community we proudly serve.