York student wins Trillium grant for Black Physicians of Tomorrow

Jamar Grandison
Jamar Grandison

A $200,000 investment from the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Youth Opportunities Fund has been awarded to York University Business and Society (BUSO) student Jamar Grandison and his colleagues from Black Physicians of Tomorrow.

Jamar Grandison
Jamar Grandison. Photo by Kyle Haye

A student-led, grassroots organization, Black Physicians of Tomorrow focuses on strengthening the Black community by providing the necessary support, resources and opportunities for Afro-Caribbean Canadian students.

“I am so impressed by Jamar Grandison’s vision and collaboration with his peers collectively to realize a well-funded project that can uplift racially marginalized youth,” said Professor Caroline Shenaz Hossein, BUSO coordinator. “I am very proud to mentor and assist Jamar as he moves along this pathway for social change.

“We are blessed in the BUSO program to witness a number of students who are social entrepreneurs. BUSO is a critical business program that teaches students about the limits to mainstream capitalism. They learn quickly that the market place is not neutral, but also learn about alternatives, diverse economies and how to make business inclusive.”

Black Physicians of Tomorrow began as an academic club and has taken action in the community to become an agent of change for aspiring Black healthcare professionals. For example, in October 2018 the group will offer free, weekly STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) tutoring, mentoring and skill workshops in the Durham region for Black teens ages 13 to 19.

Students at Maple Ridge P.S in Pickering, Ontario participate in Black Physician of Tomorrow activity
Students at Maple Ridge P.S. participate in Black Physician of Tomorrow activity. Photo by Naomi Laserna

“Universities are incredible incubators for social change. Our example of success is inspirational and may motivate other university students to become active stakeholders in affairs that promote societal mobility,” said Grandison, who serves as the organization’s marketing director and as a member of York’s BUSO Student Association.

“Jamar was a great addition to our student association,” said Jean Christian Rwayitare, BUSO Student Association president. “It’s refreshing to meet students at York University who have diverse backgrounds and can bring that to the forefront in order to propel others around them.”

Black Physicians of Tomorrow’s long-term goals include leading a research study, over the next three years, to conduct a needs analysis of the Durham region and have a better understanding of the current climate affecting Black youth living in this part of Ontario.

“In addition to publishing the data we will collect, we are taking active measures to increase the likelihood of success for high school students who aspire to become healthcare professionals,” said Grandison. “Our government grant and support from organizational mentors are both points of affirmation for us. We believe even more strongly that systemic barriers Black youth are facing will take the might of a community to overcome.”

The board members of Black Physicians of Tomorrow are 25 years old or under and are students or alumni of York University, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) and Durham College.

“Age doesn’t disqualify your ability to make significant impact. When you have ideas that can alleviate pain points of a community you identify with, sometimes, you become uniquely equipped to offer an antidote,” said Grandison. “When we received the news that our grant application for the Youth Opportunities Fund was successful, it reinforces for us that our efforts were needed in Durham region.”

In addition to Grandison, the board members include Kimberly Benn from York; Philippa Beaden, Monique Gerard and Shareese Clarke from UOIT; and Michelle DeLyon from Durham.

“We wanted to do more in the Black community of Durham region and now those thoughts and ideas are actually manifesting,” said Benn, who serves as the group’s executive director. “We’re currently working on our website – bptcommunity.ca – to keep the public up to date on the progress of our STEM literacy and mentorship program and more.”