Project Spotlight: Abiona Centre

The Umoja Project: Improving Mental Health and Educational Attainment for Black Parenting Youth through a Home Visiting Model

Promoting positive mental health outcomes and educational attainment for Black adolescent mothers.


Hard-to-engage and high-risk Black adolescent mothers and their children living in Toronto.



To provide supports to hard-to-engage and high-risk Black adolescent mothers that promote:

  • Increased educational attainment
  • Reduced barriers to accessing support/services
  • Positive parenting relationships


Using a home-visiting, wraparound approach, the Umoja Project offers:

  • On-site housing for mothers and their children
  • On-site access to childcare, meals/food, school, positive parenting training and support, and mental health services
  • Regular visits from community workers in homes, school, and within the community
  • Support needed to stay in school and help connecting to local supports such as childcare, housing, health care, tax benefits, tutoring, and mental health programs



  • Community
  • School
  • Family/Home
  • Abiona Centre

Implementation sites

  • Toronto, Ontario


  • Black adolescent mothers are isolated and struggling to stay in school due to a shift to online learning and consequent lack of childcare they experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Black adolescent mothers have an increased need for support but face many barriers to accessing services for themselves and their young children


In the words of the project team members

“I think that out of this project, you’re going to see a difference in these young moms being able to access services that they may not have known about and providing them or removing those barriers that they once had. And if we’re able to improve the lives of these young moms and their children, it would make such a big impact on their lives and our communities’ lives.”

Key protective factors

  • Parenting skills
  • Nurturing and attachment
  • Education
  • Equity
  • Access to health and support services

Key approaches

  • Culturally safe
  • Equity-focused

“The name Abiona in and of itself is of African origin. It comes from an African trajectory and African beliefs. We do want to ensure that, particularly for this project, which was funded specifically for the Black community, that the names and the work that we do resonates directly with the African and the Black community.”