News & Updates

Empowerment Squared supports TRAD as its Organizational Mentor

Jan 11, 2021 | Homepage, News & Updates, Thought Leadership

TRAD receives $250,000 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s Youth Opportunities Fund to launch unique platform for Black ideas


Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, Ontario – The Ontario Trillium Foundation has provided a three-year $250,000 Youth Opportunities Fund grant to TRAD to support Black youth to build strong community and cultural connections. TRAD is a youth-led education organization that seeks to revitalize, restore and renew Black, Caribbean, and African ideas to young adults in Ontario.

“We are a community of young adults l earning our way back to ourselves. Together, we explore ideas, cultures, memories, and philosophies of our ancestors. Our mission is to restore our peoples’ traditions and renew their ideas” says Sarah Brooks, Director of Education at TRAD. They create safe spaces for Black l earners, host l earning circles, book clubs, create l earning resources for the community, curate TRAD Tv, and publish TRAD Magazine ( is the publication for African ideas and collective memories.

TRAD is part of a coming of age movement of young Black people around the world. “We are creating the opportunities we deserve” said Deborah Mebude, Editor of TRAD’s distinct pedagogical style draws on the ideas, philosophies, worldviews, collective memories, and intellectual traditions of diverse African peoples and cultures. When they talk about ancestors, they refer to everyone from Ugaas Raage to Toni Morrision, Bob Marley to Chinua Achebe, Viola Desmond to Almaas Elman. They draw from the philosophies of African societies spanning the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, North and Latin America, the Caribbean, and wherever Black culture emerges and evolves around the world. “Blackness is not only who we are (an identity), but also what we have. At TRAD, Black life, thought, culture, and expression, is a gift to be protected, nurtured, cultivated, harnessed, and renewed” said Deborah.

“I want to send my sincere congratulations to TRAD for receiving this Ontario Trillium Foundation grant through the Youth Opportunities Fund to support the development of your organization,” said Jill Andrew, MPP for Toronto-St. Paul’s. “TRAD’s mission to create safe spaces that support Black youth in Ontario is near and dear to my heart. Meaningful Black youth engagement i s critical to any institutional longstanding commitment to equity, inclusion, and addressing systemic anti-Black racism in our province. I am very excited to see the impact and opportunities this will help create for Black  communities you serve. Thank you so much for your dedication to this important cause.”

TRAD began as a campus club at McMaster University in 2013. I t was supported by the McMaster Student Affairs, McMaster Students Union, and OPIRG McMaster. Thanks to a three-year, $250,000 Youth Opportunities Fund grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, students in Toronto, Ottawa, and Hamilton will be engaged in exploring African cultures, ideas, philosophies and traditions. They are mentored by Empowerment Squared and were incubated at The Forge, McMaster University’s business incubator, which supports innovative startups in the Hamilton, Greater Toronto, and Niagara regions.

“Through the generous financial support of the Youth Opportunities Fund and the mentorship of Empowerment Squared, TRAD will have the power to reach many youth in our city, by teaching and imparting their knowledge of Black heritage and traditions, using non-traditional formats,” said Andrea Horwath, MPP for Hamilton Centre. “Through this medium, future young Black leaders in our city and province will have the opportunity to learn, engage, and share Black history and culture in a way that is entertaining and thought provoking. This project will most certainly have a tremendous impact in our
community and I am thrilled to congratulate all of those involved.”

TRAD magazine and educational programs are developed, curated, and published by youth. The essays, stories, and art published by TRAD are distinctly intelligent, engaging, and uniquely accessible. TRAD magazine asks big questions and explores answers from traditional and contemporary African science, philosophy, society, and arts. Through their programs, TRAD imparts values of curiosity, self-efficacy, intellectual honesty, and ecumenicalism, as they refine conventional wisdom.

“Building TRAD has been an exceptionally rewarding experience for us,” said Sarah Brooks, Director of Education at TRAD. “It feels like the thing we have been searching for all our lives. A place we can come to with our whole selves. I hope you find some of what you are looking for here and that reading through these pages is as holistic for you as it is for us. Please support us. Read, engage, share, like, and subscribe. We created TRAD because we owe this to ourselves.”

“Empowerment Squared is pleased to be the sponsor and mentor for TRAD. Their programs will create online and physical spaces that are safe, and will empower Black youth through the creation of strategic partnerships with Black and Afro Caribbean university student groups in Hamilton, Toronto, Ottawa, and beyond to explore the breadth of their cultural identity” said Leo Nupolu Johnson, Executive Director, Empowerment Squared.

The Youth Opportunities Fund (YOF) is administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation on behalf of the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services. YOF provides grants and capacity-building support to grassroots groups and community collaboratives to improve the wellbeing of children, youth and families facing systemic barriers with a focus on Indigenous and Black communities. This year, over $13 million was invested through YOF to support 43 youth-led, parent-led and collaborative projects. OTF is an agency of the Government of Ontario and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. w

To see the magazine and learn more visit:

About TRAD
TRAD is a grassroots educational organization. We create African centered educational experiences, publish a bi-weekly ideas magazine, and create l earning tools for students, teachers, and community.


Facebook: TRAD Magazine
Twitter: @trad_magazine
Instagram: trad_magazine

Gerald I be
(905) 921 6796

About Empowerment Squared
Empowerment Squared is a registered Canadian charity building a world where everyone is empowered with the tools and opportunities to thrive and contribute to society. We do this by empowering newcomer and marginalized youth and communities in Canada and across the world to succeed through educational programming, sports and recreation, scholarship and awards, and thought leadership. In 2021, Empowerment Squared celebrated 13 years of developing young leaders and building better communities, including assisting over 2,000 youth and families with settling i n Canada who are now productive members of their community. Internationally, Empowerment Squared is building the transformational Liberian Learning Center and supports communities and organizations in Ghana, Liberia, and South Africa.