The Brotherhood of Ethnic Excellence (BEE) is a Hart House youth program that aims to build stronger connections between the University of Toronto campus and Black youth.
Working in partnership with several Toronto District School Board (TDSB) high schools, BEE provides transformative learning, leadership skill development and mentorship for Black male-identifying students in Grades 9 to 12.
As a member of BEE, youth will have the opportunity to build their professional and personal capacity and interests, fine-tune leadership and interpersonal communication skills, and gain real-life applicable skills to support them during their time in high school and beyond.
Building a sense of community with/for youth
Creating space for conversations and meaningful reflection
Building social capital on navigating the education system
Creating a model for intergenerational learning
Being part of BEE brought me into a community of Black men who genuinely want to see the next generation of Black youth thrive. Every staff member was so inspiring, and dedicated to doing what was best for youth.
What happens at BEE?
Each week, the BEE program runs workshops and discussions with the boys that focuses on topics such as:
- career exploration
- personal development
- sport and mental wellness
- academic preparation
- social justice
- mental health
In additional to the weekly workshops, during the 2022–2023 program Hart House hosted three sessions outside the schools, which merged the two school groups. Two of these were at Hart House, and one was a trip to the Hart House Farm.
Who are the students?
Currently BEE is in partnership with two local TDSB schools that include:
- Grades 9 to 12 students from Central Technical School (CTS
Student staff said:
“Through the BEE program and my interactions with the youth, I was able to delve deeper into the challenges that black men and boys face in the educational system and in our broader day to day life. The safe spaces for dialogue that were created as a result of the program helped to facilitate these conversations and helped build community amongst the youth and facilitators. This is something of importance to me because I have never had such a space before. I can wholeheartedly say that this program played an integral role in helping me confront the challenges and intricacies of being a black man – but more importantly helped me feel confident that the challenges and obstacles, though present, are not roadblocks.”
“BEE was successful because of the community aspect. As we built relationships, and importantly accepted each other for who we are, we empowered the youth to be the best versions of themselves. This program demystifies the myths and narratives placed on Black youth through empowerment.”