CEE Centre For Young Black Professionals

About Us

The CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals is a charity dedicated to addressing economic and social barriers affecting black youth ages 14 and over. Our activities are focused on youth workforce development, education, and advocacy to influence systems and policy.

We are committed to ensuring that we achieve our vision of a society and economy in which Black youth achieve economic stability and a stronger knowledge of themselves and their potential and contribute to building prosperous communities.

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Program and Sector Activities:

Based in Toronto, CEE is committed to cultivating a talent pool of Young Black Professionals that can benefit the Canadian labour market. We offer programs to improve their careers, education, and empowerment (CEE) that are holistic, person-centred, and culturally relevant.

We currently run programming in 5 labour market gaps: Tech, Trades, Film, Social Services, and Hospitality to support the strengthening of the social service sector in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), CEE provides professional development for front line staff in the areas of responsive programming, trauma-informed care, and cultural competence through its CEE Essentials Training Suite.

The organization will soon scale into social entrepreneurship space. 

Our Mission / Vision:

To create a society and economy in which Black youth achieve financial prosperity and high quality of life for themselves and their families. We achieve this in collaboration with Black youth, their families, employers, and the broader community.

At CEE we focus on providing Black youth with:

Exposure: to cultural competency, entrepreneurship, education, industry, mentorship, and leadership

Experience: soft skills, hard skills, on the job training and building social capital with role models to facilitate career development

Navigation: systems navigation and social capital guidance to connection with employers, leaders, agencies and support services

Holistic: we support the growth of the whole person, addressing both professional and personal issues of trauma, basic needs, peer relationships, and so on. 

Our Story:

CEE is a legacy initiative of the Youth Challenge Fund that was created as a response to increased youth violence in Toronto, in 2006 with the summer of gun. The organization was founded by Dr. Kofi Hope in 2012; he served as the Executive Director until 2018 when Agapi Gessesse took the reins. She is the current Executive Director leading the charge to scale the organization. The program model and CEE essentials curriculum were established by Shereen Ashman in 2013; she is the current Operations Director.  

April 2016 CEE incorporated as a non-profit organization after 4 years of incubation with the Black Creek Community Health Center. April 2018, we earned status as a charity organization; still maintaining back-end service support through WoodGreen Community Services. Today the organization is powered by a staff of 11 who supports an alumnus of 300 youth and growing. 

Important Documents

What We Do?

Our core Values

1.  Person-centred Work: CEE treats each member as an individual with unique experiences and contexts. We work with our members to develop their own pathways to achieve their aspirations. The needs and perspectives of our members are always at the forefront of our decision-making as an organization.

2.  Strong Partnerships: CEE understands the importance of working in collaboration not a being in competition with other community groups. CEE is committed to working with strong partners with a track record of success in delivering programs that benefit Black youth.

Social Justice

CEE’s work with Black youth in Toronto is a part of the larger struggle for economic justice, dignity and equity for all human beings. Wherever possible CEE will work to support other organizations and individuals who are striving for social justice in our communities.

Building Community

CEE makes it a priority to invest its resources within the Black community and specifically with those from marginalized neighbourhoods. We also are focused on building connections between Black youth and their larger communities.

Anti-Oppression

CEE uses an anti-oppression model to create an equitable, accessible and inclusive space. Discrimination of any kind is not tolerated.

Respect for Diversity in Black Communities

CEE understands that youth who identify as “Black” come from a variety of backgrounds, regions, cultures and religions. Our programming is inclusive of the different Black experiences young people have in Toronto.