Muzammil Syed at all times dreamed of working in well being care however had no thought learn how to go about charting a path.
Then, due to a fellow newcomer, he came upon a couple of group program that goals to break the cycle of poverty by way of training. Syed, who got here to Toronto from Saudi Arabia at age 15, joined Pathways to Schooling and by no means seemed again.
He went on to earn a grasp’s diploma and is now a medical researcher at Toronto’s St. Michael’s Hospital.
“Lots of newcomers come from nations the place they do not essentially select a vocation; generally I feel we simply take any job as a result of that is all we all know,” Syed instructed CBC Information.
“Pathways form of expanded our horizons. It says, ‘Hey, that is an possibility, nevertheless it’s not the one possibility.'”
Younger folks like Syed are precisely who Pathways to Schooling goals to achieve. The free program supplies monetary help, tutoring, profession steerage and a group for lower-income college students, a lot of them newcomers — one thing the group says is especially crucial on condition that as many as 50 per cent of youth in low-income communities do not earn a diploma.
‘A tradition of excessive expectations’
“In these communities, when the dropout charges have been so excessive, it was so frequent that college students simply accepted that it is perhaps their future,” mentioned Quinn Bingham, one among Pathways to Schooling Canada’s vice presidents.
However this program “creates one thing I feel is basically crucial and that may be a tradition of excessive expectations,” Bingham mentioned.
“They’ve a peer group that is saying, “No, you are a part of us, we’re all going to graduate.”
This system acknowledges highschool commencement as a step on somebody’s journey, not an finish level, Bingham says.
It additionally works with present group companions that will have already got a bodily area and have the belief of the group already, he says.
For some households, the monetary element of this system is what will get younger folks throughout the convocation stage.
Bingham remembers a household that was excited to have each daughters be part of this system, “as a result of they have been struggling to resolve which of the 2 women may go to high school on a given day. They could not afford the transit tokens.”
Transit tokens are one among many monetary choices. Others embrace cash for varsity provides. Graduating college students additionally obtain $2,000 that they will put towards post-secondary training, shopping for new work garments and gear or no matter they want of their subsequent steps after highschool, he says.
Tutoring is one other huge one, he says. Many households this system works with wouldn’t have the ability to afford tutoring and oldsters working a number of jobs to make ends meet may not have as a lot time to assist their youngsters with tutorial challenges themselves, Bingham says.
Program will get $1M from Scotiabank
Pathway to Schooling runs on a mixture of authorities grants and particular person and company donations, a few of which it solicits on its web site.
With a current funding of almost $1 million from Scotiabank, the free program will assist much more younger folks, Bingham says.
Matthew Teghtmeyer, a supervisor at a Pathways to Schooling program run by group accomplice Pinecrest-Queensway Neighborhood Well being Centre in Ottawa, says he thinks utilizing group companions has made all of the distinction in bringing youth into the fold due to the years of belief the centre has earned.
“It makes it simple to recruit youth for this system,” he mentioned. When individuals are coming to the centre for different issues, from utilizing a meals financial institution to attending a parenting program, the centre lets them learn about Pathways to Schooling, he says.
The centre has additionally been conserving rating, measuring commencement charges.
In 2007, when this system started, the group served by the centre in west-end of Ottawa had a highschool commencement price of solely 52 per cent, he says. However now, 80 per cent of scholars are graduating from highschool and lots of are finishing their post-secondary training as nicely.
Syed attended YouthLink, a group accomplice with this system in Scarborough. Alejandra Cabezas, a senior supervisor there, says the will increase in commencement charges and marks are one factor, however there’s additionally loads to this system that may’t be measured.
“Being transplanted as a teen is not simple,” she mentioned. “To really feel such as you belong right here issues. Folks know you. You’re not the one that simply bought right here. All it’s important to say is you’re a part of Pathways and another person will say, “Me too.'”
When youth are going through challenges at college or with what they’d love to do subsequent, they all of the sudden have the help of a complete establishment behind them, she says.
Cabezas says whereas this system is for youth, it impacts complete communities, as a result of dad and mom with youth in this system join and alumni return and assist out. Folks turn into extra invested within the well-being of their group.
In the meantime, Syed has one thing to say to everybody listening to about this system and questioning if it is actually for them.
“Enroll. You do not have a lot to lose.”