Youth Fusion

Lowering the dropout rate through innovative projects

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Montréal
CA Canada
Web http://www.youthfusionquebec.org/
Maturity

Mature

About the project Edit

Youth Fusion is an award-winning, non-partisan charity that establishes innovative partnerships between high schools and universities in an effort to counter high school dropout rates by creating and implementing projects that engage youth and keep them interested in school.

Themes

In what ways is this project unique and creative? Edit

The commitment of university students characterizes our project in particular. Students play the role of project coordinator with respect to the themes that reflect their areas of study. We promote integrative intervention in the classroom with students at risk and who are, therefore, exposed to academic and social failure. However, interventions that target students in difficulty are also organized outside of class. Support at school focuses on creating projects that are put into place and achieve even more learning for students. This is often a very motivating factor.

A great initiative for youths engagement.

What is the social value of this project? Edit

In lowering the dropout rate, our mission’s first priority is our determination to help improve the social conditions of our future citizens. In an educational context, this intergenerational encounter between students, teachers and universities in general creates an enriching interaction. In certain projects like robotics, mentors in industry enhance the exchange. This dynamic gives students more attention and, in this way, makes them feel more valued. A small but significant key factor: the fact that a young person who feels more valued and who is motivated will have a better chance to succeed should be emphasized.

What is the potential of this project to expand and develop? Edit

Demand for Youth Fusion’s services is growing strong. In a short period of time, we have had to adjust quickly to demand which, in turn, confirms our deployment. Beyond originality, our initiative undeniably responds to a need for complementary support in schools. It fits in a new era of collaboration between primary and secondary education, universities, and industry and finance which have more of a role to play in determining the development of the future workers who will be integrated into the working world.

What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

In 2007-2008, we organized a tour across Quebec and talked to thousands of high school students about social engagement and staying in school. In presentations and conferences, we asked them, “What do you want in your school that would help you stay in school and motivated?”

From Montreal to Quebec City, from St-Henri to Charlevoix, their answer was always the same: “Whether environmental, business, technology, artistic, we want activities that challenge us and we want mentors to guide and advise us all year round.”

Their comments and requests were the inspiration for Youth Fusion… An innovative idea that has not yet been tested in Quebec or in Canada: hire university students as coordinators and send them into high schools to implement and support projects that motivate young people to excel, motivate them to be a part of their academic success and give them a sense of belonging at school.

What is the business model of this project? Edit

With the support from universities, school boards, the private and public sectors, university students work with young people 15 hours a week for 36 weeks throughout the school year. Not only do the university students develop projects in their areas of study with special needs students (or other at-risk youth), but mostly, they develop long-term, close and supportive relationships with them, thereby adding continuity and attendance.

Therefore, in 2009-2009, we approached Concordia University and the Social Development Society of Ville-Marie to test a pilot project that included seven large activities in two disadvantaged school in Montreal: music and science activities at Pierre-Dupuy High School (CSDM) and activities in entrepreneurship, journalism, politics and sports at James Lyng High School (EMSB).

These programs have quickly shown their win-win effect. On one side, they encourage young people in high school to persevere and allow universities to intervene in disadvantaged high schools to fight the dropout rate. On the other side, these paid professional opportunities allow university students to use their recently-acquired practical knowledge to set examples and be agents of change in the high school’s student community. Remember that the experience these young people have in university will be one of the most important in their lives and that will encourage them to pursue their community involvement after graduation.

The idea is currently in more than 20 school in Montreal, Quebec City and the James Bay Cree First Nations.


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