About Athletes on Track Program
In July 2022, U SPORTS announced an official partnership with BlackNorth Initiative (BNI), launching Athletes on Track, a bursary and mentorship program designed to financially support University level student-athletes and supply them with the tools necessary to enter and thrive in the job market once they graduate.
Funded through BNI by Scotia Wealth Management, and Sherrard Kuzz LLP, the program consists of a $5,000 bursary which will be awarded to eight Black student-athletes. A mentor will also be provided to each student by BNI for support and guidance in general skills such as resume building and public speaking, as well as topics targeted more specifically to each student’s requirements.
"Having been a former university student-athlete, I couldn’t be prouder to help launch this bursary program and truly provide unique opportunities to our next generation of leaders,” said Chris George, Co-Chair of BlackNorth Initiative Sport, and Entertainment Committee.
Athletes on Track, which is designed to provide financial support and world-class mentorship opportunities for Black student-athletes was initially announced on May 31, 2022, at the U SPORTS Annual General Meeting.
“As the national governing body for Canadian university sport, we are committed to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Pierre Arsenault, Chief Executive Officer of U SPORTS. “As a result, we are proud, along with our partners, to announce the creation of this enriching opportunity for our Black student-athletes.”
The Athletes on Track program aims to provide a foundation for Black student-athletes to succeed on and off the field of play by teaching new skills and fostering lasting professional relationships through the BNI Connect Program. Each bursary recipient will be paired with mentors based on identified career aspirations.
“To improve accessibility for the Black Community to employment, internship, and mentorship opportunities from a variety of industries is incredibly important to BlackNorth Initiative,” said Dahabo Ahmed-Omer, Executive Director of the BlackNorth Initiative. “We could not be more proud to play a role in empowering the next generation of changemakers from the Black Community.”
“Black university student-athletes in Canada face a myriad of systemic barriers at every level of their personal and professional development, including at the start of their careers,” said Sundeep Gokhale, Partner at Sherrard Kuzz LLP. “This program is designed to provide mentorship from and career connections with successful business and community leaders. The program aims to build important skills and relationships, to open doors that are otherwise shut.”
- The student-athlete must identify as Black (Afro-Caribbean, African Canadian, and/or racialized).
- The student-athlete must be enrolled at a Canadian University (U SPORTS).
- The student-athlete must demonstrate financial need.
- The student-athlete must be a member of a U SPORTS varsity team.
Previously awarded winners will be eligible to re-apply in the future for the bursary, should they continue to meet program requirements.
- $5,000 bursary awarded to eight (8) Black student-athletes (one male and one female / conference).
- Recipients are encouraged to use this money towards room and board or books, however, there is no restriction on what the bursary can go towards.
- Through the BNI Connect Program, each bursary recipient will be paired with mentors, based on identified career aspirations.
- Mentors will include senior leadership & community leaders from our signatories and community network across Canada.
- Designed to improve accessibility for the Black Community to employment, internships, and mentorship opportunities.