Drake’s record label is partnering with city organizations to address youth safety issues

Yonis Hassan

A Toronto-based non-profit with connections to Drake’s record label is partnering with several major city organizations — including the local school board and public transit operator — to address youth safety issues.

The Justice Fund, which provides opportunities in the arts for young people experiencing poverty, announced partnerships on Friday with the Toronto Transit Commission, NBA Foundation, and the Toronto District School Board on initiatives such as promoting public art and safety on transit.

Justice Fund co-founders Yonis Hassan and Noah “40” Shebib say their goal is to address root causes of poverty and violence, which have recently been top of mind in the city.

“The spike of violence that we’ve seen over the last little while is the byproduct of lack of investments in our communities and a byproduct of a mental health crisis,” Hassan said in an interview at a summit promoting the new partnerships.

When youth are given the opportunity to thrive in the creative arts, under-resourced communities become less violent and it breaks the cycle of youth turning to crime, he added.

Among the partnerships announced is a $4-million Creative Pathways to Employment Program with the NBA Foundation and the province of Ontario to provide training to youth who identify as Black, Indigenous, a person of colour or a member of the LGBTQ community and give them access to jobs in the creative industry.

There is also a $5-million initiative with the record label OVO Sound to support community events, as well as a collaboration with the TTC that will include streetcar wrapping promoting the “Culture Drives Social Change” campaign.

As well, one dollar from each ticket sold to Drake’s “It’s All a Blur” tour will be donated to the Justice Fund where it will go toward supporting the organization’s initiatives, the group said.

“Drake does community work for this city, he just likes to not have anybody know what he’s done and where his money goes to because it’s not about that,” said Shebib, who has worked with the global superstar on songs such as 2018’s “God’s Plan” and albums like “Honestly Nevermind” released in 2022.

Shebib founded the 40 Foundation in 2019 to help youth affected by violence and also launched an initiative with the Justice Fund to allow youth to engage in music and STEM programs.

He hopes the Justice Fund partnerships can serve as examples to other cities in the Greater Toronto Area.