$5 million for a stay-in-school program: Rest of Canada to benefit from Quebec model

A major investment by the Azrieli Foundation will help Youth Fusion expand its innovative intervention model Canada-wide

MONTREAL, Dec 7, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Youth Fusion, a key player in Quebec in the fight against dropout rates and an avid advocate of school perseverance, is proud to announce a major investment from the Azrieli Foundation. The Foundation has agreed to invest $5 million over the next 5 years to bring Youth Fusion's "Made in Quebec" blueprint for staying in school to the rest of the country, while also introducing the program to more Quebec schools. Youth Fusion seized the opportunity to also announce it is among the Top 10 organizations that made it into Charity Intelligence's Canadian Charity Impact Fund, which found that Youth Fusion produces $16 of social return on investment for every dollar invested.

This new partnership with the Azrieli Foundation will enable Youth Fusion to now roll out its stay-in-school programs to more than 197 schools across Quebec by 2020, which will certainly give a boost to the Quebec government's aim of reaching an 80% graduation rate by 2020. The Azrieli Foundation's involvement and financial contribution will also open the way for Youth Fusion to spread its model across Canada, especially in provinces and communities with higher dropout rates. The funding spells good news for school teachers, administrators and boards that have been longing for the organization's programs, in Quebec regions where Youth Fusion does not yet operate such as the Mauricie, Lanaudière, Côte Nord, Gaspé and Outaouais, as well as the provinces that have expressed a desire to have their schools benefit from Youth Fusion's programs, with Ontario topping the list. Based on the requests received, Youth Fusion will be able to implement its programs in francophone, anglophone or aboriginal communities across Canada.

"We are impressed with Youth Fusion's effective and original model, which has proven very successful in developing a love of school and learning among students, motivating them to pursue their studies.  We strongly believe that many more Canadian students could and should benefit from Youth Fusion's approach," indicated Dr. Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. "Youth Fusion's educational programs have a tangible impact on the students enrolled in them. Their approach reflects our own vision of education, which is why we decided to support and partner with them to expand their programs across Canada."

 "This announcement comes only weeks after we were shortlisted among Canada's Top 10 highest impact charities.  Our daily approach contributes to shaping the education of the future. So we're extremely pleased to see the Azrieli Foundation invest longterm in a social entrepreneurship project that has had a major impact on schools and communities," added Gabriel Bran Lopez and Sarah Houde, respectively the Founding President and Executive Director of Youth Fusion.

The education of the future: an effective and innovative model that contributes to creating closer links between training and employment while working to lower dropout rates

Youth Fusion developed an effective and innovative model that transcends pure mentoring: hiring university students to work 10 to 30 hours a week with at-risk students, in class or in an extracurricular capacity, for 34 weeks, i.e. the entire schoolyear, on educational projects spanning 10 different fields: entrepreneurship, fashion design, arts and culture, science and technology, robotics, environmental design, media and film, video gaming, healthy lifestyles and leadership. In addition to working alongside grade or high schoolers on projects related to their academic field, these university students also develop a close bond with their students, which helps nurture continuity and perseverance. Employees from businesses operating in industries tied to the projects are also brought in as mentors and assigned to schools to introduce students to career options and also shepherd them through the process of completing their projects. Youth Fusion therefore offers a continuum of interventions ranging from elementary schools to the industry, and contributes to creating closer links between training and employment while working to lower dropout rates.

In 2015-2016, Youth Fusion is rolling out a total of 180 educational projects in 92 schools in several regions across Quebec, including aboriginal communities in Northern Quebec (Nunavik and James Bay). This year, Youth Fusion will provide support to over 12,500 Quebec students each week, will invest 80,000+ workhours in targeted schools, and will get 12 post-secondary institutions and over 40 companies and organizations involved in its programs.

"The creation of Youth Fusion seven years ago marked the launch of a new stay-in-school model in Quebec. Over the years, the organization's educational programs have proven extremely effective and have helped thousands of students by triggering their interest in school and different careers. Despite their success, there are still numerous challenges and pressing needs we must address. Which is why I am delighted with the support of the Azrieli Foundation. It will help drive Youth Fusion's growth, further spur innovation in education, and help stem dropout rates all across Canada," added L. Jacques Ménard, Chairman of the Board of Youth Fusion and President of BMO Financial Group, Quebec.

About Youth Fusion
Youth Fusion is an award-winning charity that works to lower school dropout rates by creating continuous ties between the school system and the community, in order to involve at-risk youth in innovative and meaningful educational projects that contribute to their learning, their qualifications, and their social integration. The organization began operating in 2008-2009 with 7 pilot projects in 2 schools thanks to the initial support of Concordia University. Its proven stay-in-school model has since been introduced to numerous elementary and high schools across Quebec. 

About the Azrieli Foundation
The Azrieli Foundation is a Canadian philanthropic organization that supports a wide range of initiatives and programs in the fields of education, architecture and design, Jewish community, Holocaust commemoration and education, scientific and medical research, and the arts.


SOURCE Youth Fusion

Image with caption: "Logo : Youth Fusion (CNW Group/Youth Fusion)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20151207_C4724_PHOTO_EN_559331.jpg

For further information: Emilie Dutil-Bruneau, NATIONAL Public Relations, Phone: 514-843-2370, Mobile: 514-654-3180; Gabriel Beauséjour, NATIONAL Public Relations, Phone: 514-843-2399


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