Kardinal Offishall joins Universal Music Canada staff to launch Black youth scholarship

Kardinal Offishall

Kardinal Offishall and employees at Universal Music Canada have banded together to launch a new scholarship program supporting Black high school students in their post-secondary education.

The Canadian record label says it’s formed BLACK Label Coalition in partnership with the Pinball Clemons Foundation, an effort that will see Universal commit $250,000 to promising young Black leaders over the next five years.

Under the scholarship program, five students will receive up to $10,000 each from Universal to put towards their first year of post-secondary education.

The Clemons Foundation, which supports marginalized youth with a goal of entering the workforce, will cover the balance of the student’s academic expenses, the record label says.

Universal says the idea came from its employees in the wake of Blackout Tuesday, a collective protest against racism and police brutality that swept through the music industry in June, in response to the killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Jason Harrow, a Universal music executive also known as hip hop artist Kardinall Offishall, took a foundational role in establishing the BLACK Label Coalition — which stands for Businesses Levelling Access to Change and Knowledge.

The group’s objective is for Universal to make a stronger investment in racial diversity, equity, and representation within the community.

Universal Music Canada chief executive Jeffrey Remedios said while the scholarship isn’t specifically related to the music industry, he believes it “further reflects our company’s commitment to bring about impactful, meaningful change.”

“I hope that some of these recipients may choose to pursue a career in the music industry, resulting in empowered Black voices and leaders of the future,” he added in a statement.

Students will need to reach a minimum 2.5 GPA in high school to qualify for the bursary and have demonstrated involvement in their community, such as volunteer work.

Universal says the program will be renewed for at least the next four years to support another round of high school graduates.