What is the number one reason why students do not go on to attend University? Simply, because students indicate that they have not been asked in a meaningful way. Dr. Axworthy and the University of Winnipeg have worked tirelessly to develop a concept for Community Learning that has touched many thousands of children and youth in a very meaningful way.
Building on its founding values, the University of Winnipeg has, over the past five years, instituted a series of innovative initiatives in an effort to extend its commitment to community learning to deal with issues of access and community capacity building.
We have been especially focused on addressing the barriers faced by individuals who have not been able to access resources or whose needs are not fully addressed within conventional school and educational structures.
Kevin Chief and UWinnipeg’s Innovative Learning Center (ILC) is responding to the disparity in graduation rates with unique learning initiatives/programs for inner-city, Aboriginal and new Canadian youth. The programs are implemented through local schools that are helping students to develop an education plan, increase academic achievement, earn tuition credit accounts, gain valuable leadership training experience, be employed over the summer months and connect to their community in positive ways. This model is referred to as “A Tap on the Shoulder”.
Since 2008, the ILC has served over 6000 students aged 7-21 through programming during the school day, after school hours, on weekends and in the summer months.
Using the resources and the infrastructure of the University of Winnipeg, the ILC programming serves as a ‘tap on the shoulder’ for children and youth. ILC curriculum nurtures an understanding of environmental stewardship, Indigenous science and traditional knowledge, and incorporates the Seven Sacred Teachings.
Kevin Chief has built amazing partnerships with organizations throughout Winnipeg with the goal of increasing graduation rates and providing much needed access to post secondary institutions. Kevin has created unprecedented partnerships with Manitoba Department of Education, Provincial School Divisions, Foundations, non-profit organizations and the business community to support the ILC programs.
Innovative Learning Centre Programs
The Model School
In operation since September, 2008, the Model School is located in the UWinnipeg Collegiate. 30 Model School students receive a full scholarship valued at $10,000.00 per year to attend the Collegiate for Grades 9 – 12. Students are integrated into the Collegiate classes and all costs including transportation, nutrition, registration and supplies are all included in the scholarship.
As well engaging in a rigorous academic program, the Model School students receive additional training in resume and life skill building activities including coaching and refereeing certification, First Aid/ CPR, driving Licensing and mentorship. 14 students have graduated to date.
Eco-Kids on Campus
Three Elementary Schools are selected each year to participate in the program where Grade 6 students are brought on campus once a week to participate in various science activities taught by University Professors. The program is free to all students including lunch, transportation and supplies. The program was extremely successful, and word-of-mouth led to a demand from numerous other schools in the inner-city area to offer the program to them. There has been over 300 students who have participated to date.
Eco-U Summer Kids Camp
The Eco-U Summer Kids Camp has operated since 2007, with over 4000 youth between the ages of 7 and 12 participating to date. The Eco-U Summer Kids Camp is a week-long day camp offered 5 times over the course of the summer. Children attend for one week at no cost, and receive free transportation, lunch, snacks, t-shirts, and equipment.