originally published in the 2015 Summer Issue

The Jane and Finch community is a vibrant, racially and culturally diverse community in northwest Toronto. With a population close to 100,000, more than 62 per cent of residents are newcomers whose first language is not English. For many of these residents, limited English language skills and the inability to find work in their field of international training leave many with few options beyond “survival”, minimum-wage jobs and long hours of work. The impact on families with such work schedules manifests itself in an increased incidence of "latch-key kids". These children return from school to an empty home. because their parent(s) are away at work, or when children are at home with little parental supervision. With many parents doing shift work or several part-time jobs to make ends meet, this leaves little time to help their children at home to acquire the essential academic skills necessary for school success. As a result, many children from these families struggle academically.

Due to the challenges experienced in the home and at school, many students from this community may not consider, or have the opportunity to attend, a post secondary institution. Instead, they are at risk for street-engaged lives, chronic unemployment or, at best, low paying and unskilled positions in the labour market.

Seneca and its partners in the literacy sector recognize that through collaboration, opportunities may be created which provide the upgrading and life skills training that make it possible for young adults to achieve their goal of a college education and improved career and life prospects. The Youth to Post Secondary (Y2P) project was created as the solution to this situation–an intervention to address an identified gap in academic supports and services and to re-engage youth from economically disadvantaged communities.

Y2P is a project geared to preparing young adults who are out of school and out of work, to be successful in a college bridging program. The project provides a variety of activities for youth, primarily between the ages of 18 and 25, focused on strengthening their foundational academic skills and providing the essential life skills needed for working, learning and living.

The Y2P project addresses the academic under-preparedness of participants who wish to take those first steps towards post secondary and apprenticeship programs by providing students remediation in math and English, as well as helping them to develop essential life skills. The program operates out of Seneca’s York Gate Campus in northwest Toronto. Supported by a donation from the Catherine and Maxwell Meighen Foundation, learning resources, workshop facilitation, program coordination and mentoring support are all part of the program. Seneca provides instructional support, facilities, administrative support services and access to a computer lab at the York Gate Campus. The Toronto District School Board provides a qualified literacy practitioner to support academic learning activities. One unique feature of the program is the involvement of senior Seneca students from the Social Service Worker program who provide support to learners as mentors and tutors.

The Y2P program is free for participants. Inquiries concerning program eligibility and the September intake may be directed to: 416.491.5050 ext. 44762

Toronto, Canada