Produced by Youth

Grantee

Youth Opportunities Fund

The founders of Produced by Youth, Lealem Abebe, Tafari Hall and Samuel Kanza stand smiling and laughing together on a white background.

Produced by Youth helped Black youth create community through music and art.

Award amount

$254,200

Award timeline

2019-2022 (36 months)

Age group

Early adults (19-25)

Catchment

Champlain

Community size

Urban Centres and Metropolitan Suburbs (100,000+)

Population served

Newcomer Black youth

Opportunity

A lack of resources and safe spaces in the Ottawa area where Black youth can express their frustrations and challenges has created a cultural and community gap. What supports would help Black youth build stronger cultural connections and reduce isolation?

Approach

Selected Priority Outcome: Creating safe spaces for Indigenous and/or Black youth to build strong community and cultural connections. 

This project served Black youth between the ages of 15 and 25, engaging them in their community through music and art projects. Participants learned specialized skills such as music production and songwriting skills, developing confidence and becoming culturally connected to their community. 

Community impact

  • 15 youth participated in the program, leading to enhanced skills in music production and songwriting 
  • Participants noted improved mental health and increased self-confidence 

“A success factor for our program was the network of support we received through our community collaborators, local artists, our organizational mentor and others. This community of support allowed us to leverage the unique skills of other groups so that we could offer our participants a full, engaging learning experience.” 

Produced by Youth emerged when three young men connected through the arts and music scene. Together, they piloted a project to engage youth in a creative workshop, and it was met with resounding success. They saw first-hand the benefits of engaging youth in creative pursuits. 

In 2019, they grew their project with a Youth Innovations Test grant to increase their impact on Black youth and provide a culturally safe space for program participants to connect and create together. They found that music had the power to transcend cultural and language barriers, creating real community connections with the youth they were engaging.  

As part of their project, the group aimed to provide a physical space to bring participants together and give them access to music production and engineering equipment. They leveraged the connections they had in their faith communities as well as in the Jamaican and Congolese Canadian communities to connect with local youth and bring them onboard. They also partnered with SAW Gallery in Ottawa as their organizational mentor.  

While the COVID-19 pandemic had the potential to disrupt the project, Produced by Youth pivoted its delivery model and moved online, creating safe and accessible opportunities for youth to interact virtually.  

Through the program, they created strong networks in the community with fellow musicians and artists, enhancing the program’s success. The youth have gained not only a sense of community but real-life skills that they can apply toward a career in the arts.  

Produced by Youth has since received a Youth Innovations Scale grant to expand its reach and do more intensive work with participants on a one-on-one basis.  

A group of university students sit outside of their school doing school work.

Youth Innovations Stream

The Youth Opportunity Fund invests in the work of young leaders who are generating solutions to the most pressing issues facing young people today.

Learn more