Since 2009 Parkdale Project Read offers an Academic Upgrading (AU) program for youth 16-29 who didn’t finish high school, established in response to an identified community need for stronger support and referral services for youth in west Toronto looking to access post-secondary education. This bridging program, offered in collaboration with George Brown College provides an accessible and supportive learning community and encompasses small group instruction and one-to-one tutoring in a non-formal community-based setting, using a custom-designed, self-paced curriculum.
The Academic Upgrading program helps learners meet college admission requirements, providing Academic Career Entrance (ACE) level certification in English Communications – which is recognized by all Ontario colleges and many employers as English 12 equivalency. As Academic Upgrading students at Parkdale Project Read, students also receive a George Brown College student card, tours of the college, access to academic counsellors, opportunities to sit in on classes, use the library, make links with faculty, and get support in applying for funding.
Some of our students are young parents struggling to provide for their families, other are dealing with the criminal justice system or overcoming barriers to employment due to various other challenges. This has historically been a complex group to access and provide services to, however Parkdale Project Read has been successful in moving students along the path to post-secondary education and apprenticeship training by delivering a holistic program rooted in an understanding of the impacts of violence and trauma on learning.
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