Our Impact Why We Exist

Since 1899, Frontier College has been working with trained instructors, partners and volunteers to give Canadians the skills and confidence they need to reach their potential and contribute to society.

In the words of our President, Sherry Campbell, “When people have the courage to walk in our door, we don’t tell them what success looks like; we ask them. Everyone has a different definition – a vivid image – of success. We are proud to be an organization that has the history, the expertise and the flexibility to meet the needs of our learners, and to help realize their dreams.”

We impact social change by offering student-centered literacy programs and educational events. We undertake three key actions to achieve our goals of improved literacy, numeracy and workplace skills:

  1. volunteer mobilization
  2. youth leadership development
  3. community capacity building

In 2014-15, our Toronto programs reached 1,685 children, youth, adults and families. This would not have been possible without the dedicated support of 30 community partners; 510 volunteers who donated 13,385 hours of their time; and the generosity of our financial supporters!

Frontier College has an Impact Working Group which conducts research on our programs across the country. In 2015, surveys were conducted with Frontier College volunteers and partners, with positive results confirming our impact:

  • 79% of tutors describe their experience volunteering with Frontier College as very good or excellent
  • Over 80% of tutors say that Frontier College programs strongly impact learners' self-confidence, content knowledge and attitude toward learning
  • 89% of partner organizations agree that Frontier College's contribution has a definite or strong impact on their organizational outcomes
  • 85%+ partners note a definite or strong improvement in literacy and language abilities, and atttitudes toward learning in the people they serve

Impact Working Group research conducted nationally between 2011 and 2015 has confirmed that:

  • 60-65% of child and youth learners demonstrate a measurable improvement in their academic performance after 6 months in a Frontier College program; e.g. higher reading level, improved grades
  • 85% of parents, educators and partners identify one or more positive impacts of Frontier College programs on students; e.g. classroom behaviour, homework completion, academic performance
  • 65-75% of adult learners in skills upgrading programs demonstrate improved essential skills


A tutor helps a student with computer skillsOur Story What We Do

At the turn of the century, Frontier College’s Labourer-Teachers were sent to far-flung places like the bush, the railway and the mines to work with the men by day and teach them by night. After WWII, workforces moved from rural to urban centres, and Frontier College forged a new path in community development, technical programs, literacy training and aid for the disenfranchised. While the traditional Labourer-Teacher program was still needed, it no longer formed the core of College activities.

Today, we work with children, youth, adults and families to improve literacy sklls, build confidence, and create brighter futures.  

Our Programs How We Do It

According to the Toronto Vital Signs report, in "one-third (32.9%) of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods, 61% or fewer residents between 25 and 64 have completed postsecondary education, well below the city-wide average of 69%." At Frontier College, we have a variety of programs that aim to improve these numbers in the neighbourhoods that need us most.

 In Toronto, Frontier College programs include:

  • Student Success programs
  • Literacy and Basic Skills, GED and Computer Skills for At Risk and Street Involved Youth
  • Academic Upgrading for the Trades
  • Newcomer Adult ESL
  • Literacy and Basic Skills for Adults with Developmental Disabilities 
  • Virtual Learning Portal
  • Literacy Related Workshops for Parents and Community Organizers
  • New Readers Bookstore
  • Book Donations

Student Success programs: Mobilize volunteers to deliver in-class and after-school academic and literacy related recreational supports activities. We focus on schools with a higher percentage of students with special learning needs and students from non-English speaking families, who struggle with provincial EQAO testing.

Volunteer tutors from universities, corporate partners and the community are trained to help students increase their skills and confidence. Programs include homework clubs, in-class supports, reading circles, writing programs and workshops for parents. School-age children from newcomer communities also receive help with homework and other learning activities while their parent(s) are taking part in Adult ESL programming.

Beat the Street: Operates on-site in Scarborough and at our Yonge/St. Clair location. Programming is offered free of charge for youth in Toronto who have not completed high school and are seeking a way back to education and employment. The program includes Literacy Upgrading and Computer Skills Training, which is recognized as a first-year college course by both Humber College and George Brown College.

Building Trades: Partnering with the Central Ontario Building Trades (Hammer Heads program), IBEW 353 and the Joint Apprenticeship Committee, we offer small group instruction and one-to-one tutoring for pre-apprentices and apprentices aged 16 years and up. Learners upgrade their literacy and essential skills and attain academic requirements as they learn about a variety of construction trades or gain work experience in a specific trade.

Newcomer Adult ESL: Initiated as an offshoot of the Newcomer (formerly the Somali) Homework Club, this programs offer one-to-one support for parents of the children attending the homework club, as well as other residents in Regent Park. Adult ESL and family literacy programs are also offered in the communities of Alexandra Park and Scarborough.

Independent Studies: A unique, niche program that offers literacy and self-management skills to adults with developmental disabilities. Adult learners benefit from a group classroom experience, maximizing their learning potential with individual tutor support and a core facilitator. This is one of the few programs available to adults with developmental disabilities who wish to advance their education.

Virtual Learning Portal (VLP): Online live tutoring service offering skills development and training in basic desktop applications (MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), GED test preparation and foundational literacy skills. Toronto staff match learners in rural and Aboriginal communities with qualified and trained tutors, allowing them to pursue their educational and employment goals at their own pace, from their home or nearby in their community.         


What You Can Do

Over 40% of Canadians have difficulty with tasks that involve reading and writing. Your donation goes a long way to support our mission!

We invite you to make a donation or volunteer with one of our programs.

  • Please click here to donate now - we welcome and appreciate donations of any size from individuals, foundations, and corporations.
  • For volunteer opportunities please write to information@frontiercollege.ca

Thank you for your support!


Sherry Campbell
President & CEO
Charitable Number: 107408445RR0001

Finance & Governance


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