The Onyx Initiative Marks its First Anniversary with a String of Successes in Applications, Programming, Partnerships & Career Opportunities for Black Students and Recent Graduates

·5 min read

800+ Applications for the Scholars Program in Less Than One Year
500+ Attendees at the Inaugural Job Fair
90+ Corporate, Education & Community Partners Combined

TORONTO, Oct. 21, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ - The Onyx Initiative, a Toronto-based non-profit established to bridge the pervasive gap in the recruitment and selection of Black college and university students and recent graduates for roles in corporate Canada, is celebrating a slew of achievements since launching one year ago today including exponential growth in the number of participants for its national Scholars Program and increasing support from some of the largest and most prominent companies on the TSX, such as Bell, TD Bank Group, Amazon Canada, Telus, Walmart Canada, PwC, HP Canada, National Bank, Lululemon Canada, and many more.

"It's an incredible feeling to see our desire to make a real difference in the lives of others evolve into an idea that garnered tremendous enthusiasm and now an organization which in just one year has surpassed our greatest expectations," said Nigela Purboo, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Onyx Initiative. "While there is still much more work to be done, the good that has been born out of unspeakable tragedies and a global social justice movement is a testament to both the necessity of dismantling systemic inequality and the power of collaboration."

For the Onyx team, the noteworthy internships and full-time roles that many scholars have secured as a result of the 55 events the organization has curated, to enhance their personal and professional development and connect them with key corporate executives, is as crucial as the premier alliances that have been forged. These events include Employer Discovery Sessions with Rogers Communications, Air Miles, CIBC, Manulife, Nasdaq, Dentsu, and The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, to name a few. As well as Career Hacking webinars focused on resume preparation, optimal interviews skills, mental health and well-being, resilience, and navigating diverse work environments. The programming endeavors also encompass a LinkedIn Learning Club Series, career exploration meetups, and most recently a virtual career fair, in partnership with Technation - an organization with a 60-year history of facilitating career-ready programs; the innovative event drew more than 500 attendees and 35 corporate partners.

"We established Onyx on the simple premise that awareness and access are two of the most formidable barriers to Black youth and professionals getting their foot in the door and acquiring the necessary skills to advance into career-defining, life-changing roles," said Wayne Purboo, Co-Founder, Onyx Initiative "Ensuring that our scholars have as much exclusive exposure as possible to the opportunities, the gatekeepers, and the decision makers will always be a major priority for our team."

Amongst Onyx's ongoing efforts to harness valuable resources that bolster current and future cohorts' career preparation and longevity is the addition of Executive Fireside Chats with distinguished industry leaders like BlackNorth Founder and Dragons Den Dragon Wes Hall and TD's Global Executive Officer, Cyber Security and CILAR Chair Claudette McGowan. The monthly chats, which began in September,

will feature a broad base of experienced speakers in a casual, virtual format. The organization's previously announced 1:1 mentorship matching program, via Ten Thousand Coffees, which is still open for mentor applications (https://www.onyxinitiative.org/apply/mentor/) and the two Career Success coaches who regularly advise the scholars on a myriad of employment-related topics are also a part of this cohesive strategy.

"Our objective since inception has been to remain flexible; we understand that being open to integrated approaches that deliver the kind of comprehensive support that our scholars need is the best way to move our mission forward," said Nigela. "We are truly fortunate to have so many like-minded allies for whom giving back a measure of what they have received is an integral part of their lives."

Onyx's launch in October 2020 was heralded as a significant, necessary endeavour and was accompanied by a full page feature in the Globe & Mail, and interviews on CTV's Your Morning, CTV News Toronto, CP24, and BNN Bloomberg. This exposure and a robust outreach plan have been the catalyst for the innumerable requests the co-founders have received to participate on panels and deliver keynote speeches at events targeting audiences in sectors ranging from health care and research to higher education and technology.

"The continued interest in these timely and critical discussions is encouraging as it is indicative of the long-term commitment that companies, government officials, and academic institutions have made to stay the course," said Wayne. "We are confident that with a sustained focus and dedication to true inclusivity and advancement, the cumulative effect of our efforts, in conjunction with our amazing partners, will be a corporate landscape that is more reflective of the diverse Canadian population that all businesses serve."

Applications for the Onyx Scholars Program are accepted year-round. The selection process for the third cohort will begin in early 2022 with onboarding slated for the spring. For more information, please contact shane.malcolm@onyxinitiative.org.

ABOUT ONYX INITIATIVE

Onyx Initiative is a non-profit organization founded by entrepreneurs and philanthropists Wayne and Nigela Purboo in the wake of the global social justice movement and the subsequent call to action. The organization was established on the simple premise that anyone seeking meaningful employment and advancement should have an equal opportunity to do so. Onyx's purpose is to expand the Black talent pipeline via cohesive, mutually beneficial partnerships to close the current systemic gap in the recruiting and selection of Black university and college students and recent graduates for roles in corporate Canada. Onyx's model is based on a dual and complimentary value proposition – leverage post-secondary educational resources to create an expansive supply of high potential Black talent and collaborate with prominent businesses to nurture a growing demand for more inclusive internships and full-time placements.

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