Summary of organization/program
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.
During the 2007-2008 school year, we set out to visit poorly performing high schools across Quebec. As we talked to thousands of kids about student engagement, we asked them one question: “What would motivate you to stay in school?” Their answer was simple: “Projects that are interesting and relevant to us.”
Whether they were passionate about the environment or technology, starting a business or creative arts, they wanted to be engaged in hands-on, real-world experiences. After speaking with students, many of their teachers and principals would approach us and say, “We don’t ask our students often enough what they want.”
The feedback we received from students and teachers inspired an idea. We returned to Montreal and approached both Concordia University and the Social Development Society of Ville-Marie about becoming partners in an innovative program to counter high school dropout rates and increase academic success in our local high schools.
The idea was simple and yet had never been implemented in Canada: hire university students and recent graduates, and send them into poorly performing schools to implement projects that motivate teenagers to stay in school, strengthen their school spirit and give them a sense of belonging. The university students would be present in the school and committed to working with the teenagers 15 to 25 hours per week throughout the 36-week academic year, from September to June.
This model set the stage for a mutually beneficial exchange. Children in the most disadvantaged schools got a chance to be involved in compelling activities, undergrads and recent graduates gained real-world, as well as career-related experience to complement their studies.
Seeing that this model would create invaluable opportunities for their students and grads, Concordia University agreed to finance the salaries of the university students who would work as project coordinators. The Social Development Society of Ville-Marie agreed to provide complementary funding for a pilot project, which took place in two Montreal schools in 2008-2009.
We decided to implement our activities in the schools with the lowest academic standings in Quebec.
Dominant Media Forms
- Engage students through innovative extra-curricular activities that motivate them, strengthen their school spirit and sense of belonging;
- Work with teachers to support the academic curriculum with hands-on activities that are meaningful to youth, both inside and outside the classroom;
- Work with local organizations to help create links between the school and the community, promote intergenerational exchanges and transfers of expertise.
- Improve interest in and access to postsecondary education by creating effective partnerships between universities and high schools;
- Offer valuable in-the-field professional experience to undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates of our partner universities.
Statement of Principles
Short term results:
- An increase in the grades of the students we target, especially in at-risk classrooms
- A decrease in absenteeism rates
Long term results:
- A decrease in dropout rates of the targetted schools
- An increase in graduation rates of the targetted schools
Samples of work
[youtube width=”600″ height=”365″ video_id=”ZUs6z8cZwc0″]
Click here to access a website created by participants.