The Onyx Initiative sees sizeable increase in applicants and partners for its recruitment program supporting black students and recent graduates

700 Applications for the Scholars Program in Six Months

Amazon Canada, Walmart Canada, Lululemon & Fidelity Canada Among the Many New Corporate Partners Joining the Existing 60+

TORONTO, ON (June 30, 2021) – The Onyx Initiative, a Toronto-based non-profit established to bridge the pervasive gap in the recruitment and selection of Black college and university students and recent graduates for roles in corporate Canada, is excited to welcome its second cohort of 230 scholars from across the country. The new participants, who will be fully onboarded in June, were selected from almost 400 applicants, a notable boost from the impressive 300 applications received for the inaugural cohort, which began in January with 170 scholars.

Onyx’s exponential growth is also attributed to an increased desire from corporations to create more inclusive work environments with teams that truly reflect the diversity of their consumer base. After launching in October 2020, with the support of a distinguished network of industry leading companies, including Bell, TD, PwC, and the Coalition of Innovative Leaders Against Racism (CILAR), the wealth of support for Onyx’s mission has continued to expand across a wide range of sectors and has spurred the notable addition of companies and organizations like Telus, Hyundai, Air Miles, Ontario Teachers Pension Plan, the City of Mississauga, Walmart Canada, Lululemon, Fidelity Canada, HP Canada, Dentsu, Wattpad, New Relic, and Amazon Canada, whose commitment to become a Founding Partner is one of the most significant since Onyx Initiative’s inception.

“We are truly excited and inspired by the growing list of applicants for our Scholars Program and the numerous corporations who are not only setting DEI mandates, but are doing the necessary work to connect with the many ambitious, hardworking Black students and professionals in our program,” said Nigela Purboo, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Onyx Initiative. “Our goal isn’t simply to open doors, but to collaborate with partners on changes that lead to meaningful career opportunities and recruitment, retention, and promotion practices that are inherently fair and beneficial for current and future generations.”

Onyx’s expansive outreach strategy to generate interest and awareness amongst potential candidates is amplified by the collective efforts of its education and community partners, which now includes Carleton University, University of New Brunswick, Ontario Tech University, and Seneca and Conestoga Colleges, as well as the BC Community Alliance, Black Student Network at McGill University, Black Canadian Coaches Association, and Accelerate Auto.

With the addition of two highly experienced career coaches, Nicole Stibbe and Adrienne Serrao, and the adoption of the mentorship and networking platform Ten Thousand Coffees, Onyx has bolstered its personal and professional development resources to provide scholars with critical decision-making support both before they land an opportunity and while navigating their career journey.

“As a trusted conduit for our scholars and our corporate partners, it is essential that we continuously finetune our services to ensure the talent we recommend are well equipped to handle the demands of their new roles and the environments they enter are well suited to enhance their capabilities and nurture their ideas and passion,” said Wayne Purboo, Co-Founder, Onyx Initiative. “Adaptability is the new norm, which is why our model is built on both tried-and-true job readiness techniques and innovative means of fostering engagement between job seekers and experienced mentors eager to share insights and advice.”

This integrated approach to delivering on the organization’s premise of being a mutually-beneficial pipeline has led to numerous scholars securing internships and full-time roles with CIBC, PwC, Hyundai, Manulife and First National Bank, to name a few. Some have also obtained positions with companies outside of Onyx’s network, but still credit the non-profit’s invaluable resources as being instrumental in their ability to garner preferred job opportunities.

“Before establishing Onyx, our research and roundtables with corporations and students revealed a lack of visibility on both sides, with the introduction of our Employer Discovery Sessions this barrier is being eliminated,” said Nigela. “Seeing the tangible results of this type of personal interaction makes our team proud and motivates us to create even more opportunities for candidates and employers to connect.”

Applications for the Onyx Scholars Program are accepted year-round. The selection process for the third cohort will begin in early 2022 with onboarding slated for the spring. For more information, please contact


Onyx Initiative is a non-profit organization founded by entrepreneurs and philanthropists Wayne and Nigela Purboo in the wake of the global social justice movement and the subsequent call to action. The organization was established on the simple premise that anyone seeking meaningful employment and advancement should have an equal opportunity to do so. Onyx’s purpose is to expand the Black talent pipeline via cohesive, mutually beneficial partnerships to close the current systemic gap in the recruiting and selection of Black university and college students and recent graduates for roles in corporate Canada. Onyx’s model is based on a dual and complimentary value proposition – leverage post-secondary educational resources to create an expansive supply of high potential Black talent and collaborate with prominent businesses to nurture a growing demand for more inclusive internships and full-time placements.


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Nicole Chrysostom-Murray, Communications Specialist