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Azrieli Foundation Announce $5 Million Investment in Drop-Out Prevention in Canada

Gala Jeunes d'affaires 2016 : un événement à valeur ajoutée dynamisé par Fusion Jeunesse — Crédits photo : Raphaël Thibodeau (www.raphaelthibodeau.com)

Youth Fusion’s project for Young Entrepreneurs aims to spur tangible skills in students, by exposing them to the day-to-day reality of running a business in a field they are passionate about. Through mock companies or real companies, either within their school or community, the students are placed in an environment prone to fostering added value to their endeavors. Photo Credits : Raphaël Thibodeau

The Azrieli Foundation’s donation will enable Youth Fusion to expand its stay-in-school programs to more than 197 schools across Quebec by 2020, to help contribute to the Quebec government goal of reaching an 80% graduation rate by that date. The Azrieli Foundation’s involvement and financial contribution will also open the way for Youth Fusion to spread its model across Canada, especially in provinces and communities with higher dropout rates. The funding spells good news for school teachers, administrators and boards that have been longing for the organization’s programs in Quebec regions where Youth Fusion does not yet operate, as well as the provinces that have expressed a desire to have their schools benefit from the program.

“We are impressed with Youth Fusion’s effective and original model, which has proven very successful in developing a love of school and learning among students, motivating them to pursue their studies.  We strongly believe that many more Canadian students could and should benefit from Youth Fusion’s approach,” said Dr. Naomi Azrieli, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. “Youth Fusion’s educational programs have a tangible impact on the students enrolled in them. Their approach reflects our own vision of education, which is why we decided to support and partner with them to expand their programs across Canada.”

 “This announcement comes only weeks after we were shortlisted among Canada’s Top 10 highest impact charities.  So we’re extremely pleased to see our innovations in education being recognized and to have the Azrieli Foundation invest long-term in a program that has had a major social impact on schools and communities,” added Gabriel Bran Lopez and Sarah Houde, respectively the Founding President and Executive Director of Youth Fusion.

Youth Fusion has developed an effective and innovative model that transcends pure mentoring: hiring university students to work 10 to 30 hours a week with at-risk students, in class or in an extracurricular capacity, for the entire school year, on educational projects spanning 10 different fields: entrepreneurship, fashion design, arts and culture, science and technology, robotics, environmental design, media and film, video gaming, healthy lifestyles and leadership. In addition to working alongside grade or high schoolers on projects related to their academic field, these university students also develop a close bond with their students, which helps nurture continuity and perseverance. Employees from businesses operating in industries tied to the projects are also brought in as mentors and assigned to schools to introduce students to career options and shepherd them through the process of completing their projects. Through these partnerships, Youth Fusion offers a continuum of interventions ranging from primary school to industry, and helps narrow the gap between training and employment as well as working to lower dropout rates.

Youth Fusion by the Numbers in 2015-2016:

  • 180 educational projects in 92 schools in several regions across Quebec, including aboriginal communities in Northern Quebec (Nunavik and James Bay).
  • Provides support to over 12,500 Quebec students each week
  • Invests 80,000+ work-hours in targeted schools
  • Involves 12 post-secondary institutions and over 40 companies and organizations in its programs.

“The creation of Youth Fusion seven years ago marked the launch of a new stay-in-school model in Quebec. Over the years, the organization’s educational programs have proven extremely effective and have helped thousands of students by triggering their interest in school and different careers. Despite their success, there are still numerous challenges and pressing needs we must address. Which is why I am delighted with the support of the Azrieli Foundation. It will help drive Youth Fusion’s growth, further spur innovation in education, and help stem dropout rates all across Canada,” added L. Jacques Ménard, Chairman of the Board of Youth Fusion and President of BMO Financial Group, Quebec.