Founded in 2001, Pathways to Education was born out of the Regent Park Community Health Centre’s (RPCHC) vision that the children of Regent Park would become the doctors, nurses, social workers, community health workers, and administrators within the community.
Now, more than 15 years later, Pathways to Education has been replicated across Canada, with high school graduation rates improving by up to an average of 85 per cent in all communities that Pathways to Education serves.
But, how did it all begin?
A Growing Sense of Hopelessness
In 1999, RPCHC’s Executive Director, Carolyn Acker, began to observe the rapid deterioration of the Regent Park community. Young people were joining gangs, selling drugs, and becoming victims of gun violence, and the overall atmosphere in the community was shifting to one of despair and hopelessness.
The parents in the community feared for their children’s safety, and for their futures. They wanted their children to succeed and be safe, but based on the research, the reality was that young people within the community weren’t finishing high school.
Closing the Achievement Gap
In reality, the community’s high school dropout rate was 56 per cent, twice the average for the City of Toronto. And for the children of single parents and immigrants, it increased to more than 70 per cent. Something needed to be done.
After listening to young people in the community, their parents, and staff of local agencies and local elementary schools, Pathways to Education was created to provide four integrated supports—academic, financial, social, and one-on-one—over the entire duration of a student’s time in high school.
In September 2001, Pathways to Education welcomed its first cohort of Grade 9 students. Five years later, the results were groundbreaking:
- Dropout rates had decreased by more than 70 per cent
- Post-secondary attendance had increased by more than 300 per cent.
Successful National Replication
Pathways to Education Canada was formed in 2005, with the goal of replicating Regent Park’s success in communities across the country. And today, we work with communities across the country to help level the playing field for Canada’s young people.