CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals

Careers Education Empowerment


Dedicated to addressing economic issues affecting Black youth in Toronto.

We are so honoured to be part of the Gift the Code. We know the ways technology can help but we rarely have the time to focus on building solutions. This is an amazing opportunity for us to work with people who can really help us to take our work to the next level.


CEE stands for Careers, Education and Empowerment – the core outcomes that it achieves through its work. CEE specializes in supporting Black youth (aged 18 to 29) in Toronto who are out of school, out of work and facing major barriers to employment. It helps youth with job readiness and career development using holistic, person-centered and culturally relevant programs and services. The vision of CEE is of a society and economy in which Black youth achieve financial prosperity and a high quality of life for themselves and their families.

In just 4 years, CEE has had 81 graduates from 8 distinct cohorts of its intensive 3-month career program. The effectiveness of the program is demonstrated by employment achieved: 70% of graduates have become employed after graduating. Beyond the intensive CEE programs, over 2000 individuals have been supported at conferences and community events.

The solutions created at Gift the Code will further the work that CEE is doing by increasing the reach and capacity of its staff and building resources to strengthen its alumni services so that impact can continue beyond the end of a program cohort.

Challenge Statements

Create a solution that enables CEE staff to track the lifecycle of clients.

Most clients who seek out the CEE are looking to make a significant change in their life. They are out of school, out of work and many times feel like they are out of options. They will come to the CEE seeking help in finding work, but will find much more than just a dead-end job. CEE offers personal coaching, job readiness workshops and career development programs that ensure clients will find work they can build into a career. As such, clients journey with CEE through various stages where they can benefit from different resources and support. Understanding which stage each client is at will allow CEE staff to better assist them and ensure that they are better prepared for the next stage.

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Create a solution that notifies CEE staff of client and alumni activity on social media, and notifies staff when clients are in at-risk situations.

CEE finds success in its work by forming personal relationships with its clients. These close connections are often facilitated by staying connected to clients on social media where they share career successes and challenges in real time. The ability for CEE staff to receive notifications of client activity from various social media platforms in one place on a regular basis will allow them to be more effective in their work.

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Create a solution that enables CEE to collect, manage and report on data from program partners.

Each of the programs that CEE offers to its clients are facilitated by program partners, which are third-party organizations. Each of these organizations collects and manages its own data on client participation, program successes and impact challenges. CEE needs to collect, manage and report on this data from each of the program partners in a streamlined manner to maintain funding for its work. This solution will help CEE staff spend less time chasing program partners and more time supporting clients.

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Create a solution that increases awareness of CEE to target client audience.

CEE works in close collaboration with Black youth, their families, employers and the broader community. Most clients discover the CEE through a referral (word of mouth) or from a physical information pamphlet that is distributed manually. In order for CEE to increase the reach and impact of its work, marketing efforts need to become more digital. This solution will be a creative application to help potential clients of CEE learn about the opportunities and programs that are available to them.

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CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals Representative

Kofi Hope, Executive Director

Kofi Hope is a Rhodes Scholar, Doctor of Philosophy in Politics, community activist and youth advocate. He has over 12 years of experience in managing community-based programs. In 2005, he founded the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence, a group that advocated for real solutions to the issue of gun violence. This advocacy work included a presentation for Prime Minister Paul Martin and led to him being named one of the Top Ten People to Watch in Toronto in 2006 by the Toronto Star. He is currently the Executive Director of the CEE Centre for Young Black Professionals (CEE). He has delivered over 75 speaking engagements in Canada and the UK, was co-chair of Olivia Chow’s election advisory committee in 2014 and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Atkinson Foundation and for the Toronto Environmental Alliance.

Capital One Charity Champion

Vijay Shankar Venkatataman, Senior Data Scientist

I am a Data Scientist at Capital One with a background in physics, and I love pretty much everything data. My go-to tools at work are Python and SQL but I have also worked with C++. I like to believe that I have an eye for good design and I’m certainly no stranger to solving tech challenges – I’ve got some grey hair from years of troubleshooting personal Linux machines to prove it.

Capital One Charity Champion

Alex Li, Design Strategist

I am a UX Strategist at Capital One. I work closely with clients to help them apply a human-centred methodology to the challenges they face. I excel at helping organizations uncover user needs through tools like interviews, and then use these insights to help define opportunities that will be transformative business solutions.