Sept. 14, 2017

City councillors approved funds for a one-time black youth leadership grant, amounting to $300,000, at Monday’s Community Development and Recreation Committee.

If approved at council, the grant will execute a recommended action (1.3) proposed in the “Interim Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism” to “Support effective Black youth leadership programs, including rites of passage, civic and community leadership.”

At city hall, Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam voiced her apprehension that the grant won’t be enough funding to meet the objectives of the plan.

“I don’t believe that we’re going to get to a place where we’re going to build up enough capacity within the black youth community to all the sudden eradicate racism, not to mention the fact that it’s not their problem,” Wong-Tam said at Monday’s committee.

“It’s the structures of racism that is creating the areas of hate and discrimination. Asking them to do this work is just ludicrous… right now, what I see are a lot of Band-Aid solutions and we’re not getting to the crux of the issue.”

Chris Brillinger, executive director of Social Development, Finance and Administration, responded to that comment in an interview with Signal Toronto on Thursday morning.

“This [recommendation for] allocation is in no way intended to suggest this is what we need to deal with anti-black racism,” Brillinger said. “This is one component of a very very broad, deep piece of work. I fully agree with the councillor that, the notion that a $300,000 allocation will fundamentally address anti-black racism is incorrect – this is not intended to do that.”

As executive director of the division, Brillinger will be accountable for how the $300,000 is spent. If city council approves the allocation in October, a four-person committee will then be chosen (ultimately by Brillinger) with the task of making recommendations for what the grant should be used for.

The grant is meant to respond to only one of 80 actions proposed in the action plan, passed at Executive Committee in the spring.

“This is just one beginning step, responding to a very specific action in [the plan] …” said Denise Campbell, director of Social Policy, Analysis and Research, in an interview on Thursday. “The whole [plan] has not yet been considered by city council.”

The final plan is expected to go to the mayor’s Executive Committee and City Council for approval this fall.

The money to fund the $300,000 grant comes from the city’s Community Partnership and Investment Program grants, which represented $32,611,814 in 2016. However, a clear breakdown of how this money is actually spent is currently not transparent.

Through research for this story, Signal Toronto found the amounts for grants and projects reported on the city’s open data portal do not correspond with those in the report before committee.

When asked on Thursday morning about the discrepancy between the amounts reported on the spreadsheets on the open data portal and in the report, Barbara Powell, manager of the Community Funding Programs Unit, told Signal Toronto, “Well, I’m still investigating.”