Dear SBL Friends and Supporters,
Welcome to May! And for us, we are starting it looking back at the past month. The amazing thing about April, regardless of the weather, is that the process of getting ready for the summer brings a rush of memories that are full of sunlight and warmth from past years. This will be the 6th summer that the core of our team has been together delivering 120+ credits to secondary students at York University, with the promise of building on past success and adding new improvements before us. That said, we have been busy, With what? Read on and find out!
Jays Care Foundation
In April of 2010, many in the Jane and Finch and York U community came together to form Success Beyond Limits (SBL). The first partner to step up to support the voices of young people in Jane and Finch that stood behind SBL was the Jays Care Foundation. Their support of our summer program model had gone back a few years previous to 2010 and they, like the community, wanted to see it continue.
On Wednesday, April 17th the Jays Care Foundation hosted their 2013 Grant Slam Grants recipients, and Success Beyond Limits was among them. We received the fantastic news that we were among the 2013 grantees to the tune of $50,000 for our summer program, which is vital to creating the conditions for the achievements of our students.
The role of the Jays Care Foundation as partners has been fundamental to our achievements over the years.
Mark Your Calendars – SBL Summer Grad 2013
On August 8th from 630-9pm, we will be holding the 2013 SBL Graduation at York University. Put it in the calendar and look out for more details in the coming weeks!
Summer 2013 – Mentor Hiring and Training
Through our long-standing partnership with the Toronto District School Board Focus on Youth Program, we were able to get an early jump on hiring our 2013 summer program Mentors. This group of 25 young leaders is an exciting group. We have 15 Mentors returning from last summer, and of the that group 22 were actually Mentees in the program.
Once hired in late March, they began weekly training covering topics that include ‘Program Planning’, ‘Goal Setting,’ ‘Mentorship’, and ‘Classroom Management 101’. This training will continue right up until the start of the program.
Beyond the learning taking place, the Mentors are already deeply engaged in the summer program set-up. As a result of the work done in training sessions so far, our summer menu has been selected, field trips planned, and program plans are now in development.
One of the big training highlights ahead of us is the Mentor/Teacher social and planning, where plans for the classroom experience they will deliver together are developed. With a good group of returning Mentors and teachers, there will be great chemistry (not to mention that many of the Mentors were students in our program of those same teachers they will be working with).
Site Lead Hired!
Our partnership with the Toronto District School Board Continuing Education Department is vital to our work, and our TDSB Site Lead is a prime example of the importance of this relationship. We are happy to announce that Saraya Elwin of Westview Centennial (and Site Lead of SBL 2012) will be joining us for another summer.
Saraya brings an amazing combination of responsiveness to the needs of students, an uncompromising commitment to student success, the consistency of a leader by example, and a great understanding and respect for the role that community and school partnerships play in giving our students the best.
Next up: building a team of 7 absolutely amazing teachers for the summer!
In March of 2013, TEDxYorkU took place in the Accolade East building of the Keele Campus of York. The theme was “The Way Must Be Tried”, the York U motto. The day was filled with York U people telling stories and opening up with “ideas worth sharing”.
It was an honour to be a part of the event as one of the speakers. The talk I delivered was called “A Story About a Street”, and it focused on a journey down Shoreham to explore the relationship between Jane and Finch and York U (and where SBL fits in it all). If there is anything to take away from it, it’s that we should move the relationship to a place where we are excited and inspired about it. You can see the talk here:
Intro Video –
After School Jobs Consultation – Ministry of Child and Youth Services
In September of 2012, in the wake of a tragic series of young lives being lost in our city, the Ontario Government, through the Ministry of Child and Youth Services, released the Youth Action Plan. Having had our Mentors consulted by the Minister of Child and Youth Services at the time, Dr Eric Hoskins, we took the commitments of that action plan to heart.
One of the exciting opportunities from the Youth Action Plan for young people is the After-School Jobs program. To support the role out of this ground-breaking effort, we assisted in assembling a number of community organizations and young leaders from Jane and Finch to offer advice on how this program can be a success. There were many strong points put forward that, we are confident, will help this youth employment initiative work for youth.
SBL Website – Trillium Foundation
Last year we received a Trillium grant that included plans for a number of improvements and expansions for our organization. One small piece was our website. We had the big goal of getting it from 50 views a month to 1000 views a month by the end of our 3 year grant. We were going to do this by working with a local Jane and Finch business, Change Promotions, to re-design our site, and empower students to create and post fresh and relevant content. We also wanted to create a space where people who don’t get to spend time with SBL could check-in and get a sense of what we are up to without having to visit our Youth Space or programs. A couple of weeks ago we checked in on our progress and found that we were at almost 3000 visitors a month after our first year!
You can check it out at: www.successbl.com
As a friend and supporter of SBL, you are well aware of our programs, Youth Space at Westview, and the student support we offer. One important aspect of our commitment to education opportunities for youth is being a part of efforts to positively impact students in Jane and Finch and across the city. Some of those efforts that we are a part of are:
Collective Impact Core Team – working on a collective effort across sectors for positive outcomes for youth.
Equity Policy Advisory Committee – an advisory committee to the TDSB on issues of inclusion and equity.
Education Roundtable – bringing alternative education initiatives across the city together to foster collective action, communication, and collaboration.
United Way Community of Practice on Youth Educational Attainment – participating as part of a community across the city committed to positive youth outcomes in the area of education.
‘Who’s Doing What?’ – a community effort to push forward equity in the Toronto District School Board.
Somali Student Conference – a gathering of students, teachers and community leaders to hold a dialogue on the action needed to improve outcomes for Somali students in the TDSB.
Student Success Committees at Westview – a group of teachers, administrators and community members working on collectively supporting the students that are struggling through mentorship, additional support and proactive interventions.
Canada 150: 2017 – staff and students contributing ideas on how Canada should celebrate 150 years in 2017, bringing a focus on opportunities for young people.
And the list goes on.
Here’s to a fantastic month of May!