London-based tech firm Northern Commerce is donating $150,000 to support young black people

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A London tech company is massively supporting black youth.

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Northern Commerce is donating $150,000 to the Lead to Change Foundation, a Toronto-based agency that supports black youth in arts and culture. The money is a one-year commitment and will be used to provide workshops for young people in:

  • Clothing and print design.
  • Podcasts and broadcasting.
  • Photography and video.
  • Recording and audio engineering.

Additionally, Northern staff will work with youth to develop digital marketing skills.

“It’s a great partnership for us. The money is great, but to get access to digital marketing staff, they’re a leader in this field,” said Carl Blackman, executive director of the foundation.

Northern presented Lead to Change with an initial donation of $40,000 for workshops starting in April with an additional $110,000 to be donated later this year, he added.

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In addition, Northern employees will provide educational workshops for young people.

Says Blackman, “We are excited to work with Northern to help young people successfully bring their creative ideas to life.

The workshops will train approximately 56 young people per year.

“We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Lead to Change,” said Michael DeLorenzi, President of Northern Commerce. “As a young teenager, I was blessed with access to creative arts like web development and HTML courses.

“Helping me gain the experience and skills to fuel my passion and drive, which has helped me make Northern what it is today.”

Northern is a web development and digital marketing company that was founded in 2015. It has around 190 employees.

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“Educational experiences continue to be inequitable and unequal for minorities,” DeLorenzi said. “Being able to provide black youth. . . with similar experiences and resources that I had access to in my youth is extremely important to me. I want to help inspire and empower young people in our community.

Northern officials were motivated after reviewing national industry data that showed only 3% of the tech workforce in Canada identified as black while 70% identified as white, said Samantha Courneya, Senior Director of People and Culture at Northern.

“We saw a staggering disparity and thought ‘what can we do?'” she said. “We felt it was important to make it a priority, to give others an opportunity.”

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