Pathways to Education
An initiative of Toujours Ensemble
The lack of a diploma often leads to poverty, and poverty has an important negative impact on several aspects of people’s lives. Montreal has a school dropout rate of 30%, which is high. At some schools in Verdun, about 50% of students leave school before graduation.
The Pathways to Education program was implemented in 2007 by the agency Toujours Ensemble in order to help as many Verdun youth as possible graduate from high school, successfully transition into post-secondary education, and become actively involved in developing their future careers. The program aims to increase the retention and success rates of the most vulnerable students in at-risk neighbourhoods.
This program had already been proving its worth since 2001 in the Regent Park area of Toronto, which had a dropout rate of 56%, by obtaining extraordinary results:
- The dropout rate plunged by 70%
- School absenteeism dropped by 60%
- The number of students graduating and going on to university or college soared from 20% to 80%
- Over 90% of the young graduates who decided to pursue their studies were the first member of their family to go on to higher education
Pathways to Education offers four key supports:
1. Academic support
Volunteers help participating students to do their homework. Each student must attend at least two homework assistant sessions a week.
2. Social support
Students participate in group activities such as theatre, hip-hop dancing or group discussions at least once a week.
3. Financial support
$500 is deposited in a scholarship fund for each year of a student’s participation in the program, to a maximum of $2,500, for the student’s post-secondary education or training following graduation. The program also makes it possible to grant about $400 a year to students’ families for the purchase of school supplies, books and uniforms, as well for transportation and meals, because even small financial barriers can hinder school participation.
4. Personalized support
Each student is assigned a student-parent support worker. These program staff members monitor students’ school attendance and meet with them regularly to discuss their progress. They have access to the students’ report cards and attendance reports and remain in communication with their families.
- The first cohort of Secondary 1 students began the program in the fall of 2007.
- The program welcomes a new cohort every year and consequently five cohorts of students are now participating.
- In 2011-2012, a total of 255 Secondary 1 to 5 students are participating in the program.
Costs and benefits
The Boston Consulting Group undertook a pro bono analysis of the cost/benefit of the program to society. Its conclusions are impressive:
- The return on investment today for $1 invested in Pathways to Education is $24.
- The net present value to society per student in the program is about $50,000.
- The cumulative lifetime benefit to society of a student in Pathways is $600,000.
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