Pathways to Education in Kingston is seeking volunteers
It is one of a suite of programs and services provided through the Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC) that promote and support individual and community health.
Here's a report by Terri McDade
Education is a subject near and dear to the hearts of SLC retirees. Sometimes students need a helping hand to realize their full potential and derive the benefits that education can provide. Pathways to Education in Kingston is one of a suite of programs and services provided through the Kingston Community Health Centres (KCHC) that promote and support individual and community health.
An innovative community-based program, Pathways to Education (P2E) is designed to increase high school graduation rates for youth living in Kingston’s predominantly low-income north end, and help students successfully transition into post-secondary education or training. The program focuses on helping high school students through tutoring, mentoring, financial support, and advocacy. Pathways to Education works – in June 2018, the fifth cohort of Kingston students will complete the program and will graduate from high school.
The Pathways to Education program offers:
· Academic tutoring sessions in all subjects;
· Mentoring activities including field trips, campus tours, YMCA memberships, training and skills-building opportunities;
· Financial incentives such as school lunch vouchers and grocery cards;
· Assistance with career exploration and planning post-secondary options for all students;
· Post-secondary scholarships accruing at $500 for each year enrolled in the program up to $2000 after four years. These awards are available to help students deal with post-secondary demands in their high school graduating year, such as application fees and residence deposits, before they can access government and institutional student financial assistance.
Prior to the program beginning in 2010, the dropout rate in the north end area was twice as high as the rest of Kingston. Graduation rates have improved by an average of 69% in the Pathways Kingston Community. There are approximately 294 Kingston grade 9 – 12 students enrolled each year in the Pathways to Education (P2E) program. Of the P2E alumni and currently enrolled students, 44% report that they are or will be the first generation in their families to attend post-secondary education, 11% self-identify as Indigenous, and 3% were born outside of Canada. Currently the program has 156 alumni.
The majority of students moving forward to post-secondary choose college as their destination; 54 students are currently St. Lawrence College students. Efforts are being made to increase the number of students going to university, including opportunities for students in grades 7, 8 and high school to visit Queen’s campus and engage with faculty and staff to understand the options and opportunities available to them. The P2E program operates with 20 staff and 76 volunteers who volunteer 2,664 hours annually.
St. Lawrence College has always been a leader in helping students attend and complete PSE studies regardless of their personal financial circumstances. Numerous bursaries, many in the name of SLC retirees, are available to financially assist students.
Kingston is an affluent and well-educated community with Queen’s, RMC and St. Lawrence College sometimes creating a bubble in which people do not realize that there is a large population within our community that needs our help. Barriers to a post-secondary education are more than financial and this program helps student access the education that will change their futures.
Pathways to Education is a national program with eighteen sites operating across Canada. The funding for all the sites is provided by a combination of government grants, large national corporate donors and philanthropic sponsors, and local fundraising. The Kingston annual budget is over $1 million, toward which approximately $150,000 must be raised annually, including a substantial contribution from the KFL&A United Way. We have a small local fund-raising cabinet of volunteers who spearhead activities in Kingston and work to engage the community and various community partners to support Pathways to Education.
I began volunteering with the Kingston Pathways to Education cabinet in 2012. I have a passion for education, and for reducing barriers to access, and this organization is a perfect fit for me. Effective January of this year, I assumed Cabinet co-chair responsibilities with my colleague Jo- Anne Brady, retiree from Queen’s University. Together we bring a strong foundation of student support and a commitment to ensuring our local P2E thrives and students have access to all of the supports they need to complete high school and successfully transition to post-secondary education, training, or meaningful employment.
Education is a critical social determinant of health and the vision to improve the health and prosperity for the future of our local youth is a driving force behind the program. To quote Nelson Mandela “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Pathways to Education (P2E) is changing the lives of Kingston youth and working to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty.
With your help, we can make Kingston a city in which all youth have equal opportunity to graduate from high school.
There are many ways that St. Lawrence College retirees can help:
· Volunteer your time as a tutor or mentor http://www.kchc.ca/pathways-to-education/volunteering-with-pathways-to-education/
· Participate in local fundraising events.
· Explore the potential of joining the fundraising cabinet
· Donate directly to Pathways to Education
No-one can better express the benefits of the Pathways to Education program than one of Kingston’s alumnae:
“Pathways is just like a big sports team. The staff never fails to encourage and assist you whether you're up to bat or sitting out on the bench.” Missy McFadden, a Kingston resident who graduated from the Pathways to Education program and currently a student at Trent University, is enthusiastic. “As an alumni of Pathways, I miss the program and still use it when I need help! Pathways has been and will always be a great network of people who care for, help with, and encourage the young minds of our future.”