YMCA Black Achievers Mentorship Program: Hats Off to Our 2023-2024 Black Achievers Graduates!

02 July 2024 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto

What an incredible evening! On June 15, 2024, our YMCA held its third annual YMCA Black Achievers Graduation Celebration, with program participants, parents, mentors, YMCA staff, donor representatives, and others gathered to celebrate the 10 remarkable young people in the program who were graduating from high school (and the program too). Congratulations to this year’s graduates! 

Ayanah Atherley-Lynch, Chloe Bucchan, David Law-Ahmiegbe, Ines Walton, Janet Oni, Oghenetega Agofure, Jordan Wyke, Shalling Gyasiwaa, Titobi Oriola, and Zainab Usman. 

The evening started on a high note, with a very thoughtful Land Acknowledgement written and delivered by Grade 10 Black Achiever participant Tunmise Awodumila. This was followed by beautiful renditions of both the Canadian and Black national anthems by Saraphina Knights, a graduate from the program’s inaugural year, now in her third year of a Music Industry, Art, and Performance program at Centennial College. 

Land Acknowledgement written and delivered by Tunmise Awodumila, a Grade 10 participant of the Black Achievers program.

Renditions of the Canadian and Black national anthems by Saraphina Knights, a graduate from the program’s inaugural year.

Moved by the music 

As if that wasn’t enough, members of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, introduced by TSYO Manager Matthew Robertson, followed next with a stunning symphonic performance. Event co-MC (with Tonicia James) and Black Achievers program coordinator Samantha Morgan-Adebiyi thanked the TSO for their partnership with our Y, which most recently involved performing at our Black History Month finale event, and hosting Black Achievers youth at a TSO Aretha Franklin tribute concert.  

Other special performances came from Canadian steelpan virtuoso LuckyStickz (Dejehan Hamilton) over dinner, and traditional and Afro beat African dance group Yenko Moves, who electrified audience members and got the whole room dancing! 

Event co-MC and Black Achievers program coordinator Samantha Morgan-Adebiyi, alongside Tonicia James.

Afrobeat African dance group Yenko Moves electrifying the audience and getting everyone dancing!

Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra Manager Matthew Robertson.

Members of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Celebrating our Achievers 

Program scholarships this year were presented to: 

Ines Walton and Ohgenetega Agofure – who each won a Desjardins Scholarship of $1,500. Thank you to Desjardins representatives Michael Manirakiza and David Deschenes for being on-hand to award these scholarships to these two remarkable youth.  


Left to right: David Deschenes, Ines Walton, Ohgenetega Agofure, and Michael Manirakiza.

Titobi Oriola and Chloe Buccan – who each won a $2,000 Black Achievers Scholarship funded by individual donors in our scholarship drive. Both shared the 2024 Outstanding Black Achiever of the Year Award this year, and earned their scholarship as part of that prestigious award.  Last year’s Outstanding Black Achiever recipient Teniola Awodumilla was there to honour this year’s recipients.  


Titobi Oriola and Chloe Buccan, recipients of $2,000 Black Achievers Scholarships, pictured here with Mahalia Reid, Tonicia James and Samantha Adebiyi from the YMCA.

The event also celebrated some significant recently announced scholarships achieved by one of our graduating Achievers: 

The YMCA Shane Stanford Scholarship for Black Youth, which honours a past employee who served the Y community – received by Titobi Oriola. 

The RBC Future Launch Scholarship for Black Youth (an award of $40,000 over a four-year post-secondary term, plus mentorship) – received by Titobi Oriola, who was one of only 20 youth across the GTA selected to receive a Future Launch scholarship.  


Left to right: Akosua Matthews, Chair, YMCA Board; Titobi Oriola, recipient of the YMCA Shane Stanford Scholarship and the RBC Future Launch Scholarship for Black Youth; Lesley Davidson, President and CEO, YMCA; Garth Neilson, Senior General Manager Employment.

Celebrating our Many Supporters  

Among the event’s many speakers, parent Olufunmilayo Oriola spoke movingly about how she had seen her son grow in the program and mentor Mureth Rhone shone light on the impact of the mentorship experience in her own life and thanked the other mentors in attendance for all they had done in the past year to support Black Achievers youth.  

Olufunmilayo Oriola spoke on behalf of the parents.

Mureth Rhone represented the mentors.

CIBC Foundation representative and mentor Shermanda Bernard, then spoke about how important the program is to the foundation, and shared a video profile of 2023 Black Achievers graduate Eniola, who is now completing her first year of a Nursing post-secondary program.  


CIBC Foundation representative and mentor Shermanda Bernard.


Of course, the YMCA Black Achievers Mentorship Program could not exist without the dedicated support of its mentors and donors, and we’d like to conclude with a big thank you to them for their incredible generosity

2024 Mentors 

Olivia Wilks, Shermanda Bernard, Colin A. Campbell, Dwayne Campbell, Aderonke Onipede, and Tanya Palmer, Zindzi Henry, Mureth Rhone, Wesline Clermont, Ellaine French, Promise Ugochukwu, Selina Karim, Emmanuel Ukposidolo 


2024 Mentors. Left to right: Olivia Wilks, Mureth Rhone, Tanya Palmer, Shermanda Bernard, Colin A. Campbell, Aderonke Onipede.

Founding and Expansion Donors 

The Barrett Family Foundation – CIBC Foundation – Ontario Trillium Foundation – Peter Gilgan Foundation – Rogers – bluboho – Donette Chin-Loy Chang – The Henry White Kinnear Foundation – and our scholarship donors, including Desjardins Financial Group 


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