Initiative looks to connect Niagara youth with post-secondary education

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Initiative looks to connect Niagara youth with post-secondary education

Published on October 04 2011

In a region where less than 10 per cent of the population has a university degree, Brock University’s Youth University is working with community partners to reverse this trend with the Neighbourhood Access Initiative.

The research-based initiative is designed to support community development and grow the number of youth from priority neighbourhoods in the region who go on to attend university or college.

The program received more than $65,000 from the Niagara Prosperity Initiative for two years of support, and is being co-ordinated in partnership with District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board.

“Research tells us one of the biggest factors influencing a student’s decision to pursue higher education is whether or not they know someone who has gone on to university or college,” says Kate Cassidy, director, Youth University. “It also tells us they are making these decisions at a young age.”

The program, led by Brock student volunteers, is designed to follow youth from Grade 6 to high school. It involves mentoring, tutoring and after-school programming, as well as hands-on activities to identify and connect student interests with future careers, civic engagement and educational pathways.

Participating students and their parents will also have the opportunity to visit Brock and learn more about every aspect of planning for post-secondary education.

“This is a long-term commitment to help students from priority neighbourhoods in our region find their way in post-secondary education,” says Cassidy. “Along the way we hope to foster a passion for lifelong learning with these students that will help to develop their self-esteem, relationship and communication skills, critical thinking abilities and a sense of belonging.”

The Neighbourhood Access Initiative builds upon a pilot program that took place at Fort Erie Public Elementary School last year. The Prosperity Initiative funds will be allocated to support the programming underway in Fort Erie, and a new program in Niagara Falls.

“We hope this initiative brings attention to the issue of equitable access to post-secondary education in Niagara,” adds Cassidy. “And an awareness of helping everyone in the communities across our region reach their greatest potential.”