DreamCatcher Mentoring (DCM) is an innovative e-mentoring and leadership program that connects high school students in Yukon and Nunavut with Canadian mentors who work in the students' aspired career-of-choice. The DCM program was developed in response to the declining number of students that enter and graduate from high school in northern Canada.
DCM staff believes that an empowering, self-directed and high-quality mentorship will give students the confidence, leadership, and skills needed to create attainable goals, complete their education, and work towards their dreams and aspirations. The enhanced opportunities for continued education which flow from this process encourage DCM students to continue their schooling through post-secondary and/or diploma and certificate training.
DCM was officially launched with a pilot program in April 2005 in Carcross, Yukon, a small town of just 400 people, with the media, government and local communities. For one month, DCM ran a pilot project matching 14 students (Grades 7-9) from Carcross Community School with 14 Canadian professionals eager to help northern youth identify school and career objectives. Unlike traditional forms of mentoring, DCM hosted discussions solely on its website: www.dreamcatchermentoring.ca. In partnership with the Yukon Department of Education (YDE) and the Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN), DCM also included a month-long, supplementary curriculum designed to get students to think critically about their future, culminating with a day-long work placement in Whitehorse.
Following the pilot program’s initial success, the DreamCatcher Yukon Mentoring Society was founded in 2005 as a not-for-profit organization under the Yukon Society Act. Since 2005, DCM has provided 800 Yukon and Nunavut students (representing over 20 different schools and 19 separate northern communities) with high-quality E-Mentoring experiences by being paired with Canadian Mentors across Canada working in the students' dream careers.
DCM has developed an innovative form of online mentorship in an effort to provide northern youth with access to a diverse group of enthusiastic and qualified mentors across Canada. Because of the virtual nature of our program, we are able to attract Mentors from all corners of Canada. This e-mentoring process provides a unique opportunity for northern high school youth to interact with their mentors through a secure online environment, and connects them with career professionals with whom they would otherwise not have had the chance to communicate with, especially those students living in rural communities.
One of the measures of our success has been tracking the graduation rates of our participants. With data from the Yukon Department of Education (YDE), it was determined that 94% of DCM participants had either graduated from high school or were still in school. This suggests that students who participate in our program are more likely to graduate high school compared to students that don’t participate. This is a significant result and DCM is continuing to work with the YDE to generate additional statistics in order to better understand how the DCM program lends to post-secondary and training success.
DCM recruits mentors mainly through word of mouth and through existing mentors. We can draw from our approved 1000+ mentors in our database or the 800 we’ve had participate since 2005. The application process starts with our online registration form. If there is a potential match with a student, we put that mentor through a criminal record check and personal reference check review before making the match. The matches typically last 2-4 months depending on the school and teacher.
This coming school semester (Jan-June 2012), DCM will be engaging Grade 9-12 students in 8 communities in Yukon (incld. Mayo, Teslin, Carcross, Whitehorse) and 2 communities in Nunavut (Baker Lake and Igloolik).