Pathways to Education Canada launches eighth Ontario site in Kingston

- Pathways celebrates the first program site in Kingston to help reduce high school dropout rates among local youth -

KINGSTON, ON, June 21 /CNW/ - Today, Pathways to Education Canada, a program dedicated to reducing high school dropout rates in disadvantaged communities across the nation, announced its further expansion with the launch of its eighth Ontario site. The program will focus on the Inner North End and Rideau Heights communities of Kingston, which wrestles with a disproportionately high number of low income households, single parent families and residents who have not completed high school. These neighbourhoods have now joined the growing list of communities whose students will be more likely to graduate from high school, go on to pursue post-secondary education and gain meaningful employment.

After a lengthy and in-depth review process, Pathways to Education Canada has partnered with Kingston Community Health Centres, which will deliver the Pathway program at the community level in Kingston. Kingston Community Health Centres was founded in 1988 and provides primary health care, early childhood services, street outreach health and social services, harm reduction and addictions support and immigrant services to the lowest income communities in Kingston.

"Although residents in the communities of Inner North End and Rideau Heights account for less than 10 per cent of Kingston's population, they account for 23 per cent of the population that has not completed high school," said Hersh Sehdev, Executive Director, Kingston Community Health Centres. "Residents have expressed a strong need and desire for a solution to the high school dropout rate in the area and I am confident that Pathways' community-based program will be that solution."

Local youth and families site a range of barriers to academic success including the costs associated with school such as field trips, lunch and transportation, wide-spread bullying and a general feeling of low self esteem and high levels of stress. North Kingston is home to Kingston's highest percentage of the adult population who have not completed secondary school so dropping out of high school is very commonplace. These barriers have resulted in 52 per cent of youth in Inner North End and Rideau Heights not graduating from high school. Kingston Community Health Centres will begin accepting participants in the North Kingston program as of June 21, 2010. The Pathways program is expected to help significantly lower the dropout rate that these communities currently see.

"Over the past 10 years, Pathways to Education and its partners have had tremendous success in reducing high school dropout rates and closing the achievement gap in some of Canada's most disadvantaged communities," said David Hughes, President and CEO, Pathways to Education Canada. "Our expansion into Kingston means that yet another group of young people will now have access to the tools and resources needed to succeed."

On Wednesday, June 23 at 5:00 p.m., David Hughes will be the guest speaker at the Kingston Community Health Centres' Annual General Meeting where he will speak about the importance of education to the future of today's youth and Canada's most disadvantaged communities. Media are invited to attend. The AGM will be held at the Lions Club Hall at 824 John Counter Boulevard.

Founded in 2001 in Toronto's Regent Park, the Pathways program expanded in 2007 to include the Ontario communities of Lawrence Heights and Rexdale in Toronto, Kitchener and Ottawa, as well as the Quebec community of Verdun, in south west Montreal. In 2009, the program expanded into Hamilton and Scarborough, Ontario, and in 2010, Pathways launched its first East Coast site in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Through the Pathways program, these communities have succeeded in reducing the number of academically "at risk" youth by up to 52 per cent.

Pathways to Education was created to help reduce the dropout rate among disadvantaged youth in Toronto's Regent Park community. Pathways has found that students' dropping out of high school is often based on an inherent lack of opportunity and hope for the future, which is systemic in similar neighbourhoods across the country. The dropout rate has long-term national social and economic impacts, as students who drop out of high school tend to earn lower wages, pay less tax, commit more crime and have higher social services costs than students who graduate or those who achieve post-secondary education.

The Pathways to Education Program offers a comprehensive, community-based and results-focused approach that sets it apart from other programs in its holistic commitment to improving the opportunities of participating students. Pathways provides academic tutoring, group and career-oriented mentoring, student advocacy and financial assistance, including transit tickets or meal vouchers as well as academic scholarships, from a wide range of volunteers and community partners dedicated to working interactively with the students and alumni.

About Pathways to Education Canada - www.pathwaystoeducation.ca

Pathways to Education Canada is a community-based charitable organization that is reducing poverty and its effects by lowering the dropout rate and increasing access to post-secondary education among youth in disadvantaged communities. Pathways was developed by the Regent Park Community Health Centre which launched the initial program in 2001 and now operates in nine communities, with programs in Toronto (Regent Park, Lawrence Heights, Rexdale and Scarborough) well as Kitchener, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.

SOURCE Pathways to Education Canada

For further information: For further information: Josie Haynes, Optimum Public Relations, 416-934-8012, josie.haynes@cossette.com; Alexandra Pecoskie, Optimum Public Relations, 416-306-3784, alexandra.pecoskie@cossette.com


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