For more than a decade, Pathways to Education has helped young people in economically disadvantaged communities attain the education they need to succeed in life. Today, the program runs in 13 communities across Canada.
In 2011, Pathways began a pilot program for literacy in six locations: Regent Park and Scarborough in the Greater Toronto Area; Kitchener and Kingston, Ont.; Winnipeg; and Halifax.
John Beebe, Pathways' manager of tutoring initiatives, says after determining the existing program was working well, the question was: How can it be made better? One of the areas identified as worthy of further development was literacy.
"Many of our students face challenges around succeeding in schools because of weak literacy skills," he says. "There are students who can't get their homework done because they lack some of the core skills."
At the start of Pathway's literacy project, organizers found about 70 per cent of the 66 students recruited to participate in Regent Park, Kitchener and Winnipeg were reading below a third-grade level.
"If you're reading at that level, you're still learning how to read," Beebe says.