Youth Fusion celebrates its 5th anniversary - ALDO Group joins the fight against high school dropout and invests in a new fashion design program

MONTREAL, Dec. 11, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - The charitable organization Youth Fusion marked its 5th anniversary today in the company of 200 people, by announcing a new fashion design program, "Rising Fashion," which will be launched in high school classrooms, in partnership with ALDO Group and with the collaboration of LaSalle College. Youth Fusion, which is dedicated to keeping young people engaged in school, also seized the opportunity to unveil the results of a study conducted by the CRIRES university research centre on the impact of Youth Fusion's initiatives to date. Several leaders attended the event from school boards, universities, ALDO Group and BMO Financial Group, as well as 100 high school students.

"Youth Fusion and its founder Gabriel Bran Lopez have succeeded in rallying universities, school boards, schools, teachers and businesses around a common cause, that of creating initiatives aimed at nurturing student success in schools and communities where there is a high risk for dropout," declared L. Jacques Ménard, President of BMO Financial Group, Quebec, who has chaired Youth Fusion's Board of Directors since the organization was founded. "We are very pleased to see a Quebec-based business like ALDO Group embrace this common cause, and we thank Mr. Aldo Bensadoun and his team for their support," added Ménard.

A $100,000 investment in a creative educational project
Jointly sparked by Youth Fusion and ALDO Group to counter high school dropout rates, the Rising Fashion program will introduce students to fashion design through stimulating hands-on activities. With the guidance of a Youth Fusion project coordinator with expertise in Fashion Design, students will begin with a sketch, accompanied by a written description of their original fashion creations. Students works will be displayed online and submitted to a public vote in March 2014. Next, participants will have the opportunity to design a clothing item or fashion accessory that will be modeled and presented at a fashion show in May.

Rising Fashion was launched on the heels of a pilot project developed during the 2012-2013 school year in a special education class at the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board. ALDO Group has agreed to invest $100,000 over two years to fund the program's expansion.

"We firmly believe education has the power to help young people reach their full potential and we are very proud to be a part of Rising Fashion's launch. Fashion and design have been at the core of ALDO Group for over 40 years and we are delighted to have this opportunity to share our passion with today's youth," emphasized Jean-Pierre Généreux, ALDO Group's Vice-President, Brand and Concept.

The participating schools in 2013-14
In 2013-2014, the Rising Fashion program will be implemented in five schools or groups of schools: Saint-Henri, Pointe-aux-Trembles, Cavelier-De Lasalle (Montreal), Mgr-A.-M.-Parent (Saint-Hubert), and, competing collectively, Boudreau, Vanier and Jean-de-Brébeuf (Quebec City). Rising Fasion will create a friendly competition within and between the participating schools, since each of the five candidates will be required to present three creations.

The program will culminate with the Rising Fashion Gala on May 14 at LaSalle College, during which the participants will present their creations before a jury of fashion industry experts. Six prizes will be awarded after the fashion show, and the members of the winning team will also be entitled to a full-day internship at ALDO Group's headquarters. In addition, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts will exhibit the sketches that obtained the most votes from the public.

"We find the work done in collaboration between teachers and Youth Fusion's coordinators to be truly inspiring. This is the type of long-term commitment that enables our students to tap into their full potential," stated Gilles Petitclerc, Chairman of Montreal Hooked on School.

From 2 to 70 schools in 5 years!
After gaining a foothold in two schools in 2008-2009 with startup funding provided by Concordia University, Youth Fusion has gone on to build ties with new partners and learning institutions, including 11 universities. Now, only five years later, the organization works closely with partners in the education system, and is having a positive impact on Quebec youth in 70 public schools across the Greater Montreal Area and Quebec City, in Rimouski and Rouyn-Noranda, as well as in indigenous Cree and Inuit communities in James Bay and Nunavik. The latter expansion was supported, in part, by Réunir Réussir (R2).

"Concordia has a history of making education accessible and has always been a trailblazer. We can only be proud to be the founding partner university of Youth Fusion's innovative approach to lower dropout rates, and to see the organization's impact and growth," declared Alan Shepard, President and Vice-Chancellor of Concordia University.

$8M and 150,000 hours devoted to 10,000 students in 5 years
Youth Fusion's formula is simple, effective and goes beyond mentoring: Hire university students and recent graduates as project coordinators, and send them into under-performing schools to implement projects that engage at-risk youth in learning, both inside and outside the classroom. The coordinators work between 15 and 25 hours per week in their designated school throughout the entire school year. Since 2008-2009, Youth Fusion's project coordinators have committed 150,000 hours to working directly with over 10,000 students, and the organization has mobilized a total of $8M in investments for Quebec's youth!

"The study shows that Youth Fusion's programs, which thoroughly differ from other dropout prevention programs because of the cooperative work between teachers and university students, are highly effective. According to the parties involved, these programs achieve a 95% success rate in terms of engaging young students in learning. As for the students, 70% admit the programs have helped them move forward, with some reporting they are either thinking about their future more than they used to, are looking forward to obtaining their high school diploma, are enjoying and attending school more, are thriving in being part of a team, and are talking to other people or feeling more self-confident. Also, a 40% drop in deviant behaviour has been observed by those involved in the programs," confirmed CRIRES' Director, Thérèse Laferrière.

"We are of course highly satisfied with the positive impact our programs are having on students. Nevertheless, we a have a long way to go before we reach the 80% graduation rate which Quebec has set as a target for 2020. Which means that we cannot afford inaction or empty gestures. Those who join the fight must be in it for the long term," stressed Gabriel Bran Lopez, Founder and Executive Director of Youth Fusion.

Investments of $4M for the 2013-2014 school year
Youth Fusion and its partners will invest no less than $4 million in 2013-2014 to fund long-term activities in 70 schools. Each school partner receives resources and expertise in one or several of Youth Fusion's 12 programming areas, which include: Robotics, Multimedia, Entrepreneurship, Sciences, Music, Performing Arts, Environment and Sustainability, Academic Engagement, Leadership, Healthy Lifestyle, and now Fashion Design.

About Youth Fusion
Youth Fusion is an award-winning Canadian charitable organization, created in Quebec, which establishes innovative partnerships between disadvantaged schools and universities, in an effort to lower dropout rates. It does so by creating and implementing yearlong projects that engage youth in learning, and motivate them to attend school.

SOURCE Youth Fusion

For further information:

New program's website: www.relevemode.ca

Caroline Bergevin
caroline@hemisphere-rp.com
514.914.5138    

Mélanie Bergeron
melanie@hemisphere-rp.com
514.922.2009