Afro Caribbean Mentorship Program (ACMP) founder Warren Clarke is a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Carleton University in Ottawa. Much of his academic career is focused on the social development of Black youth and helping students overcome different social barriers.
After holding a discussion with undergraduate students at Carleton about applying to grad school, he founded ACMP.
“I thought there was going to be like, 10 people to show up, and to my surprise, 80 people showed up,” he says. “It was telling to me that this is an initiative that should not be a one-and-done thing. It’s a need.”
The ACMP holds campus events, panel discussions, workshops and community-building activities for graduate and undergraduate students at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. The program also works with high school students to support their transition into post-secondary education.
Over the past year, hundreds of students have participated in virtual events including workshops on financial literacy and getting into university, as well as panel discussions for Black History Month and Mental Health Month, among others. During its Black History Month Gala in March, ACMP and its partners including RBC awarded over $2400 in educational bursaries to members of the Afro-Caribbean Black (ACB) community in recognition of their excellence.
Listen to this podcast about how the Afro Caribbean Mentorship Program continues to provide access and innovative learning opportunities to support students’ success in Ottawa and beyond.
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My name is Warren Clarke. I am from Toronto, Ontario. I’m currently living in Ottawa, Ontario. What do I do? Oh my goodness, many things.
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Warren is a Ph.D. candidate in sociolog
Warren currently teaches a course at Carleton on addressing Race, Gender and Sexuality through the arts. Students are learning how to advocate against anti-Black racism and other forms of discrimination using theatre and drama. Much of his career has been dedicated to helping Black youth overcome social barriers in schools.
I think a lot of it has to do with what I’ve gone through as a young Black male myself. I think that’s where all this work that I do comes from my own lived experience. But also knowing that the lived experience of mine is not going to be the same as anybody else’s.
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Warren currently teaches a
In 2018, Warren founded the Afro Caribbean Mentorship Program. The program provides innovative learning opportunities to support the success of African, Caribbean, Black and other racialized students in Ottawa.
It was a beautiful accident. I didn’t foresee developing an initiative that would take off the way it has … And I’m very humbled and very appreciative for the opportunity.
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In this podcast, Coming up, Warren shares more about his work in academia, the goals of the mentorship program, and his current partnership with RBC.
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The Afro Caribbean Mentorship Program, or ACMP, runs a number of events at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa to support students both on and off campus.
A few undergrad students that I was TA’ing approached me and said, “Hey, we’ve never had a Black or African descent TA, much less a professor at Carleton and it would be worthwhile to understand, ‘How did you get into the position you’re in?'” I agreed to sit them down and show them some ways of how I approached grad school and how I applied.
I thought there was gonna be like, 10 people to show up and to my surprise, 80 people showed up. And it was telling to me that this is a project or initiative that should not be a one and done thing. It’s a need.
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Much of Warren’s research has focused on the structural barriers that many marginalized youth in Canada face. He says the mentorship program aims to address and offer solutions to the historical and ongoing oppression of African descent students. The mentorship program holds campus events, panel discussions, workshops and community-building activities for personal and professional skill development.
When we speak about the social development of Black, young people who are able to enter the post-secondary education spaces, I think it’s an amazing accomplishment. But one of the things that we need to also focus on is to be more mindful of how they’re experiencing anti-Black racism and certain types of oppressions that are impactful for their academic development. For example, are they able to use the services in the library such as a writing service, and feel a sense of liberation? Do they feel that they can access any social services on campus, and not feel a sense of anti-Black racism or a sense that they don’t belong? So these are really important factors to consider.
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The mentorship program
Warren says these programs help young people counter harmful stereotypes and create their own identities.
When people ask me what I’m doing as a career, I get football player, I get personal trainer, I get anything that is nothing to do with academia. And when I tell people that I’m a Ph.D. candidate, the first response is “You? Yeah, right. You? Oh, my gosh.” So it’s not about just identifying that, but how do we do away with those stereotypes?
And one of the things we do with the projects is that we identify why this continues happening, because of this history and the understanding and the common narrative of what Black men ought to be. And then one of the things we do is show them that there is another side, or there’s another option that you can identify with for yourself.
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Warren also stresses the importance of inclusivity and diversity at all ACMP events.
Because when we’re saying we need to dispel anti-Black racism, we can’t just have African descent people in the room, it doesn’t work. We need to have everybody in the room who wants to take an intentional approach to learn how to dispel anti-Black racism, so we can actually live in a diverse and diverse society. We need everybody to show up.
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As part of its commitment to anti-racism, diversity and inclusion, RBC is proud to partner with the Afro Caribbean Mentorship Program in its mission to fight systemic anti-Black racism and support the growth of Black communities in Ottawa and beyond.
RBC saw the value of not only sponsoring a Black History Month event, but being a partner in helping with the mobilization of ACMP events throughout the year. So for example, not only giving monetary support, which is amazing, but showing up. That was key. The amount of, you know, RBC representatives that have sat on one of our panel discussions, or led one of our financial literacy discussions was monumental.
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To learn more about the Afro-Caribbean mentorship program, visit weareacmp.com.
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