New Black Initiative Fund launches for student projects

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By Mariam Nouser

Student Life and Learning Support at Ryerson has launched a new fund for Black students to gain seed funding for their initiatives towards Black communities.

The Black Initiative Fund (BIF), is similar to the Student Initiative Fund (SIF), where students submit a written application and are invited to pitch their ideas to a committee. 

Applicants must be students at the university and have events centred in equity, diversity and inclusion as well as community engagement.

SIF is a university-based fund for existing and new student projects to gain funding. They fund items such as honorariums, food and prizes.

The BIF will award students up to $5,000 in additional funding to SIF for student initiatives and projects.

Pelumi Egbewmi, SIF administrative assistant and a final-year psychology student, said the criteria is similar for BIF with the addition of a separate rubric tailored towards it.

“The applications are looked over by the SIF committee, but the BIF committee which comprises of Black students, will get the final say,” said Egbewmi.

“The fund is a direct response to an Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review”

The fund was started by Stephan Allen, a former orientation and campus events facilitator and Ryerson alumnus, who saw the need to prioritize Black experiences and initiatives at the university.

Allen said, “The fund is a direct response to an Anti-Black Racism Campus Climate Review recommendation about student life.”

The recommendation states, “Funding of events, meetings and information sessions that specifically support and centre Black students should be created and/or enhanced.”

Egbewmi said the process for students to apply for funding was already in place through SIF which made it easier to create BIF. “It was important to prioritize the leadership of Black students through this fund.”

She said the funding for BIF is separate from SIF and is not restricted in terms of the amount of initiatives that can be accepted. 

Students can apply to the Black Initiative Fund through the SIF portal from now until Sept. 21.

To apply to BIF, students must organize an initiative between this September and next January. An additional round of applications will open in October for the winter semester.

The application consists of questions requiring detailed answers to show how the funding will be used. 

Some of the questions cover topics like how accommodations will be met and how the event will serve Ryerson students and community members.

In addition to the standard questions on the SIF application, BIF will also have tailored questions catered towards inclusion and representation of Black students.

“It was important to prioritize the leadership of Black students through this fund”

Once an application is approved for pitching, the students will move forward to “pitch weekend” from Oct. 1 to 3, where they’ll present in front of a committee of student representatives.

The two representatives from BIF will listen to the pitch and finalize their decision as to whether the funding will be granted and if so, how much money will they receive. 

Egbewmi hopes this fund will allow students to hold events and initiatives that they’ve been wanting to plan but haven’t been able to due to funding constraints.

Allen said the funding is something he wishes were around when he was a student, but he’s thrilled that Black students will get the chance to enhance their campus experience.

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