Rogers youth fund benefits Summerside Boys and Girls Club

Published on December 19, 2012

Matt Pauptit (left), program director at the Boys and Girls Club of Summerside, and Heather Robinson, public affairs and communications manager for Rogers in Atlantic Canada, help Boys and Girls Club volunteer Jillian Ramsay and staff member Chelsea Moulins get familiar with the terminals at the newly-opened technology centre in the basement of the Nortre Dame St. facility. Michael Nesbitt – Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE – The Boys and Girls Club of Summerside is expanding its services to young adolescents, and a new technology center was unveiled as a centerpiece of the initiative.

Rogers Communications has partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Canada, through the Rogers Youth Fund, to deliver a new, multi-faceted education program called “Raising the Grade.” The program is aimed at increasing academic skills, high school graduation rates and access to post-secondary education for at-risk youth. Its core delivery will be provided through a 12-unit technology center developed in the basement of the Boys and Girls Club on Notre Dame Street.

“Rogers’ corporate mandate has always been around youth and education,” explained Heather Robinson, public affairs and communications manager for Atlantic Canada.

Rogers initiated the program at 25 Boys and Girls Club locations across Canada. The Summerside location is one of five in Atlantic Canada and unique in P.E.I.

Raising the Grade will operate as an after-school program that allows youth to explore personal interests, receive homework support, connect with mentors and tutors, interact with peers, increase digital literacy and plan for post-secondary education, according to background information supplied by Rogers.

“We still, across this country, have a fairly high drop-out rate. Our goal is to give younger and middle teens the tools - whether digital literacy or supportive environment or mentors, with the programming as has been described – to make sure they have what they need to get their marks up, finish high school and have the opportunities that they might not otherwise have,” Robinson said.

Matt Pauptit, program director for the Boys and Girls Club, explained the focus of the Raising the Grade program is a website developed by Rogers and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. Mentors and participants receive a log-in password for access to the educational modules, and skill-specific software can also be added to the centre’s terminals for use.

Education manager Angee Arsenault explained that participants will be expected to create an electronic portfolio of their activities, and mentors will guide the participants in creating personal development plans, which provide some concrete guidelines for advancement but can be adjusted as the participant progresses. The program will also include guest speakers as well as experiential sessions to encourage better understanding of the options available beyond the school years, based on expressions of participant interest.

The program partners teamed with the Western School Board and Three Oaks Senior High School to identify potential participants and mentors.

In addition to the attraction of the program’s resources, dedicated participants qualify for a $1,000 per-year scholarship, held in trust towards post-secondary education costs.

The volunteer mentors undergo the same process as any other volunteer, but their status will be exclusive to the Raising the Grade initiative. Pauptit, and Arsenault will train them to deliver the core aspects of the initiative, and the sessions will be supervised to ensure quality and address any issues that may arise. The mentors will be able to apply their volunteer hours towards the P.E.I. Community Service Bursary, available to grade 11 and 12 students to a maximum of $500 towards post-secondary education, calculated on the number of hours invested. They will also get consideration for summer jobs at the Boys and Girls Club.

Raising the Grade will have scheduled use of the technology centre, but other club members may use the facility at other times, with all the standard club Internet filters and reporting protocols active at all times.