Business is Jammin’, which aims to empower Black youth through entrepreneurship, is expanding its iCode+ program across Nova Scotia to expose more young African Nova Scotians to digital technologies.

The not-for-profit organization has teamed up with the Saint Mary’s University Enactus team and the RBC Foundation’s new Future Launch program to extend the program beyond its pilot in the Upper Hammonds Plains community. The program makes digital facilities accessible to black and minority youth aged 16 to 29 and encourages digital education.

“We live in a society that grows more dependent on science and technology every day,” said Rustum Southwell, CEO of the Black Business Initiative, which oversees Business Is Jammin’. “The goal of the iCode+ pilot program was to expose black youth in the Upper Hammonds Plains Community to technology through coding, with the purpose of building their minds, knowledge and skills.”

He added the program aims to encourage young people’s “participation in higher education in order to advance their own lives but as a community as a whole.”

So far, Business Is Jammin’, or BIJ, has helped more than 8,000 young people to build the confidence and capacity required to take control of their economic future through a range of educational, social, mentorship. The program provides financial support programs while building business acumen and leadership skills.

As a result of this success, BIJ is announcing the expansion of iCode+ facilities so they will be accessible to other Black youth and minority communities across Metro Halifax. The aim is to close the gap between Black youth and their peers in the mainstream community, and to connect Black youth with jobs and careers in the information and communication technology sector.

The RBC Foundation is working with BIJ to open the new facilities in the Halifax area to help youth build the confidence and capacity required to take control of their economic futures. This will be one of several locations to open in Nova Scotia in the upcoming years.

ICode+ aligns well with the new RBC Future Launch program, a 10-year, $500 million commitment by the bank to unlock the potential of young people in Canada by addressing three critical gaps:  experience, skills and networking.

“RBC is excited to support the Business is Jamin iCode+ program helping young black youth learn digital literacy and proficiency,” said Alisa Alyward, RBC Regional Vice-President. “Our aim through the RBC Future Launch program is to help ensure young Canadians have the skills, capabilities and connections to make the 21st century and their place in it, all it should be.”