Pathways to Education Canada

Where you live shouldn’t determine your success in school. But in many cases, it does. Pathways to Education is helping youth in low-income communities graduate from high school and successfully transition into post-secondary education, training, or employment. Pathways addresses systemic barriers to education by providing leadership, expertise, and a community-based program proven to lower dropout rates.

Our Impact Why We Exist

Pathways to Education is a national, charitable organization working to make Canada a Graduation Nation. Partnering with dedicated organizations in low-income communities, Pathways supports youth to graduate from high school and achieve their full potential. Celebrating 15 years of successful programming, our award-winning combination of financial, social and individual supports continues to successfully break the cycle of poverty through the power of education.

Our Story What We Do

Each year, thousands of Canadian youth will drop out of high school. This seemingly simple and personal act alters the course of their lives forever. It’s a move that costs them their education and future earning potential. Taken collectively, it costs their community by ingraining a culture of failure. Nationally, it costs our economy through a reduced employmentpool and tax base, and an enormous strain on public expenditures.

Tens of thousands of youth in Canada’s lower-income neighbourhoods have the potential to succeed in school but are unable to overcome the barriers to education that are created by poverty. Insufficient financial means, lack of positive role models in the community, absence of parental support, and integration into a new country and culture, are just some of the barriers that can make high school graduation seem like an impossible dream.

The problem is big and it is real.

Youth living in low-income communities across Canada are up to 5x more likely to drop out of high school. While the average high school dropout rate is 6-10 per cent, in low-income communities the rate can soar up to 50 event 60 per cent. 

Pathways addresses barriers to education and supports youth in low-income communities to graduate from high school in a safe, positive, and empowering space. The award-winning Pathways Program delivers a unique mix of wrap-around academic, social, financial, and individual supports that assist students to stay in school with a multi-year commitment to youth and their families. The results of this unique program have been groundbreaking:

  • participation rates of more than 80 per cennt of the youth in Pathways communities
  • improved graduation rates: increasing by an average of 60 per cent of more
  • increased number of youth going on to college or university: by up to 300 per cent

Our Programs How We Do It

Pathways to Education has a vision of Canada becoming a Graduation Nation.

Pathways works at the community level by delivering academic support, social support, advocacy, and financial assistance.

  • Academic support: Free afterschool tutoring sessions to all of our students from Monday through Thursday.
  • Social support: Provided in both group and one-on-one settings, where students participate in various activities that encourage them to make positive decisions about their futures.
  • Advocacy: A Pathways Student/Parent Support Worker (SPSW) acts as an intermediary between students, school and parents to ensure students have all the supports they need to overcome barriers to high school success.
  • Financial assistance: Short and long-term financial support, such as free bus tickets, meal or grocery vouchers and scholarships are offered to students. For each year that a student attends the Pathways program, they qualify for a scholarship payment of $1,000 toward postsecondary education (up to a maximum of $4,000).

Pathways collectively “wraps” students with comprehensive, multi-year supports proven to be critical in helping them stay in school, graduate and make the transition into healthy, successful and contributing adults.

It's an idea with proven impact.

Toronto Pathways sites have been successful in enrolling more than 80 per cent of eligible youth in the program, and, as a result, have had a transformational impact not only on individual students, but also on the outlook and prospects for the entire community. As of June 2012, Pathways has celebrated more than 3,138 high school graduates across Canada, of whom 73 per cent have transitioned to post-secondary programs.

The Boston Consulting Group calculated that a Pathways graduate generates a cumulative lifetime benefit to society of $600,000. By 2016, Pathways expects to serve 10,000 students and alumni across Canada.

Participant Vignette

Ruth moved to Toronto’s Regent Park from Ghana in 1997. Entering the Toronto school system was tough for her. She felt ignored by teachers because they did not know how to address her language barriers and was put into a learning disability program. As she entered high school, she continued to struggle. “The biggest challenge was getting used to high school, things like negotiating my classes, adjusting to the workload and continuing to learn the language,” Ruth says.

Pathways to Education became a source of support and encouragement for Ruth. The program provided the tutoring in order for her to get the grades she needed for college, while mentoring helped her learn to trust people outside of her family and community. Pathways did not just help change Ruth’s life, but gave her mother a new perspective on education. “My mother did not understand what it was all about … in my culture there is very little value placed on young girls pursuing higher education and careers.” The support she received from her Student-Parent Support Worker helped her to address these issues at home. Ruth now has a Child and Youth Worker diploma from George Brown College, and has gone on to receive a Child and Youth Care degree from Ryerson University.

What You Can Do

Your investment in Pathways to Education may support:

  • Program excellence and innovation in our existing sites
  • Program expansion to new communities that meet Pathways program requirements
  • Broadened impact – bringing about systemic change through knowledge transfer and partnerships

Gifts may be directed to specific sites or to support the research, evaluation and knowledge-sharing activities that Pathways undertakes.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, every dollar invested in Pathways generates a $24 return to society.

Donation impact

Investment in program delivery and expansion ensures the sustainability of the Pathways program in existing communities and enables Pathways to reach more youth in disadvantaged communities. As a result, more youth will complete high school and go on to post-secondary programs – a step that will change their lives forever.

Investing in Pathways research and knowledge-sharing activities supports the program measurement and improvement process that is critical to maintaining a relevant, high-quality program. Pathways’ ability to share its research and knowledge with others enables broader impact and delivers benefits for even more youth, families and communities.


Laura Kim
Development Coordinator
416.646.0123 x221
Charitable Number: 861908499RR0001

Finance & Governance


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