Important Update: The Stand Up conference was held for 10 years with the last event taking place in 2019. Plans are currently underway to create new programs that will carry on the objective of Stand Up and continue to “redefine the colour of success” for young boys across the country.


Why Stand Up?

We believe that every young person deserves and has the ability to be successful. We know from data that young men of Colour are at risk in terms of meeting the Ontario Standard at grades 7 and 8.  Only 40% of students born in the English-speaking Caribbean and 45% of students born in East Africa achieve or exceed the provincial standard in all four subjects in grades 7 and 8.* These young men represent one of the largest groups of students at risk of failing the grade 10 literacy test and graduating from high school*. They can sometimes feel powerless to navigate the barriers to their success. As a response to the high number of young men of Colour underachieving in schools, The Toronto District School Board launched the inaugural Young Men Conference in May of 2010.

What is The Stand Up Conference?

More than 300 middle school boys from seven downtown TDSB schools participate in a special day of learning, sharing and growing together. The annual conference, “Stand Up: Redefining the Colour of Success,” offers an opportunity for boys to engage in workshops led by men of colour in a variety of fields, including business, medicine, sports, and entertainment. Successful local professionals from all walks of life share their personal stories of success and strategies for overcoming barriers and stress the importance of education to create a sense of empowerment for the participants.

Stand Up Data

  • Participants surveyed ranged in age from 13-15 years old
  • 30% of the students self-identified as Black, while 15% of the students identified as White or Caucasian. 24% of the students identified as Eastern Asian, while 27% identified as South and Southeast Asian with 1% identifying as Middle Eastern.
  • The  conference  met or exceed the expectations of 97%  the participants.
  • 25% agreed that they were finding it difficult to pass tests and keep up with class work.
  • While  36% agreed that they had doubts about their ability to succeed prior to the event. 
  • 87% agreed that they were inspired by the men at the conference.
  • 90% agreed that speaking with the men at the conference influenced their desire to be successful.
  • 89% agreed that they were comfortable speaking with the mentors. 
  • Mentor Voice
  • 88% indicated that they would agree to mentor a small group of students on an on-going basis throughout the year.

On ways that the event could be improved, there is a need to increase the number of black youth or invite other mentors of different races. 


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