Ethos Lab is throwing a public block party to celebrate its new home in Mount Pleasant

The Black-led nonprofit organization curates STEAM learning experiences in culturally relevant ways.

What’s the best way to get kids interested in STEAM? Throw a public block party, of course.  

On Saturday, June 18, youth academy Ethọ́s Lab will do just that to celebrate the launch of its first in-person venue in Mount Pleasant. The academy—which launched in 2020 and describes itself as “Hogwarts meets Wakanda”—is a Black-led nonprofit organization that streamlines access to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) in culturally relevant ways.

“Our programming centres the humanity of the Black experience to draw greater inclusion into the fields of STEAM,” says founder Anthonia Ogundele, who holds a Master’s in urban planning from the University of Waterloo. Workshops, tools and spaces are made available for Ethọ́sians to be able to think critically and apply concepts that they’ve been learning about.  

READ MORE: Ethọ́s Lab aims to boost Black representation in STEM—and help create a just and inclusive future for all 

Ogundele grew up in a home that was steeped in STEM: her father and sister are engineers, her other sister is a doctor and her brother is in kinesiology. Ogundele, however, has an entrepreneurial mindset, and her inspiration to launch the academy came from a desire to bring kids who didn’t see themselves in STEM into STEM.  

“I have a 15-year-old daughter and not only was she the only girl in the room but she was the only Black girl in the room,” says Ogundele. “I wanted to be able to create an environment where she saw leaders and professionals that looked like her and also brought it to her in an accessible way as well.” 

Ethọ́s Lab member working on the muralEthọ́s Lab. Nigel Amenu-Tekaa, program manager at Ethọ́s Lab, working on the mural for the new location in Mount Pleasant. 

Throughout the pandemic, Ethọ́s Lab was operating 80 percent online and 20 percent offline. For example, last summer’s urban ecology camp took in-person kids into nature and provided online kids with a kit to create an automatic plant waterer at home. Now the organization is moving toward a fully hybrid model that enables synchronous learning for both in-person and online students so that all members get an equal experience, and their new home at 177 East 3rd Avenue is going to help realize that goal.  

“There’s a fundamental decision that needs to be made in grade 10,” says Ogundele. “Do I apply for a STEAM-related program or not?” The non-profit partners with organizations like UBC Geering Up and Vancouver Film School to curate inclusive learning experiences for youth aged 12-18. Partner organizations may also offer internship opportunities for the older kids, the point being to provide high school kids with exposure in these fields so they can make informed decisions about their future.  

The block party also marks the end of the nonprofit’s fundraising campaign to generate $100,000 in 100 days. With $75,000 raised so far, Ethọ́s Lab hopes to reach its goal by the end of the party taking place from 10am-8pm on June 18. Everyone is invited, and attendees have the opportunity to see demos from sponsors that helped make the launch a reality, including Microsoft and Active Replica.