Pathways to Education
The Pathways to Education program started in Toronto in 2001 and expanded to Ottawa in 2007. There are currently 20 Pathways to Education program locations across Canada.
How the Program Works
The Pathways to Education program works together with schools, other community agencies and volunteers to offer students various supports. These supports include:
Academic: Pathways to Education provides tutoring four nights a week in a safe and social space where students are able to get help with their homework, prepare for tests and develop new skills.
Social: The program provides opportunities for students to try new activities and learn new skills. Help is available to assist with finding jobs, exploring career paths and applying for college or university.
Financial: Each month Pathways students will receive a voucher to help cover food or bus costs. Pathways to Education also gives scholarships to students after they graduate to help them pay for college, university, or job training.
One-on-One: Program staff are matched with students to help them meet their goals and stay on course at school. These staff track students' grades and attendance, communicate regularly with parents and school staff and help to resolve problems that come up at school.
To be eligible for the Pathways to Education program you need to be a high school student living in a low-income neighbourhood in the Pinecrest-Queensway area. Eligible neighbourhoods and buildings include:
Eva Taylor Court
The CCOC Community at Richmond Road and Hartleigh Avenue
96 McEwen Avenue
The results of the Pathways to Education program have been excellent! High school drop-out rates of program participants have decreased by as much as 70 per cent and the rate at which youth go on to college or university has increased by up to 300 per cent.
Availability of Pathways to Education
Pathways to Education is currently not available in other areas of Ottawa but work is being done to address the low graduation rates in other low-income communities across the city. A PQCHC initiative called Equity in Education is bringing together various stakeholders who are committed to addressing this issue by increasing collaboration, testing new program ideas, sharing learning and resources, and recommending changes to policies and systems.
Learn more about Post-Secondary & Career Mentoring Support Here
To volunteer with the Ottawa Pathways to Education program, please visit the Volunteers section of the website.
Pathways to Education Success Story
Pathways to Education… and a job at Shopify
Colin Lochalamoi helps others. As a child, Colin wanted to become a doctor until he discovered coding at age 11. He has now set his career sights on computer science and information security to keep people safe.
Colin lives in Britannia Woods, a social housing community in Ottawa’s west end. Many residents are children and youth, single parents and new immigrants. In low-income communities across Canada, the high school dropout rate can reach up to 50 per cent.
Colin learned in grade 8 about free tutoring and mentorship in his neighbourhood that came with financial support and a transit pass. Pathways to Education is offered through Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre. Pathways dramatically improves graduation rates across the country. Its success is attributed in part to its unique approach. Joining Pathways meant not only studying hard at Woodroffe High School, but also Colin agreeing to give Pathways staff full access to his grades and school attendance. And, the ability to communicate with his school guidance counsellor and parents. While it sounds like a lot of sharing to ask of a teenager, Colin says he trusts the Pathways team completely. “They are really here to help you,” said Colin.
By grade 11, when marks started counting towards future university admission, Colin set his sights on admission to a computer science program. As Colin’s high school courses got more advanced, so did the volunteer tutors. His math tutor, Dr. Isaac Tamblyn, is a physicist who has been volunteering with Pathways for three years.
On top of his schoolwork, Colin was working and volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa (BGCO). It was there that he first came in contact with Shopify through Link<ed>, a collaborative venture between Carleton University’s Virtual Ventures, Shopify and BGCO. This after-school program focuses on digital skill development for BGCO youth—encouraging them to experiment and play with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) concepts in a fun and inclusive environment.
A tour of Shopify in grade 11 sharpened Colin’s focus. “The thing that caught my attention was the Dev Degree program,” he said. The program blends a paid internship at Shopify with a computer science degree at two Ontario Universities, Carleton University in Ottawa and York University in Toronto. Shopify also pays the tuition. “At first I thought, ‘it’s impossible’… then after I looked into it and saw the requirements… I thought, ‘why not apply and see what happens?’.”
During grade 12, Colin applied to the Dev Degree with support along the way from Brent Kaesler, Team Supervisor with Pinecrest Queensway’s Pathways program and Brittney Oberfeld, Shopify’s Senior Outreach Producer. His application was strengthened by many years of volunteering. “I really love Shopify and what they’re about. It’s not just all business to them. It’s also life and helping people out.” said Colin.
Following a series of increasingly challenging interviews, Colin was accepted to Dev Degree in May which he refers to as “the best day of my life”. He was also admitted to the Carleton University Computer Science program. Colin is now working towards graduating in 2023 with his degree in computer science, 4,500+ hours of work experience, 4,000+ hours of academic experience, and $160,000 paid in salary, tuition, and vacation time.
Today, Colin speaks of Pathways with gratitude, strongly recommending the program to other students like him. “Without Pathways, I don’t think I would have had the opportunities I’ve had. Without Pathways, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Pathways has not only offered me school support, but also supported me with things outside of school. Pathways is, for any kid or student in my community, the one place you can go for anything. Whether it’s home, school or work. Pathways has helped me and a lot of students. It’s a life changing program.”
Call: 613-820-4922 ext 3418