July 2, 2021 – In partnership with the Community Foundation for Kingston and Area, KCHC Pathways to Education Kingston is launching a $1-million endowment fund that will allow Pathways to continue and grow their work to support students beyond their high school years, through the agency’s innovative Facilitator of Alumni Relations (FAR) program. The objective of the new fund is to support, inspire, recognize and grow Pathways alumni. It will enable the program to evolve to meet the needs of youth across Kingston.
The FAR program offers needed supports for Pathways students beyond high school graduation and into their post secondary phase. This program has been a huge success, but does not have sustainable funding to continue to offer the services and resources that the alumni need in order to succeed.
Shaelyn Gibson, a Pathways alumna now attending Algonquin College in Ottawa, avowed at the June 28th endowment launch: “The FAR (Facilitator of Alumni Relations) program is one of the main reasons my transition from high school to college was so smooth, especially considering the new challenges that arose from online classes. Jon [Oosterman, the inaugural FAR] was patient when explaining how to fill out different applications; he would send me links to scholarships that he thought I was eligible for. He really reinforced that feeling of support and ensured that I did not go into this new chapter of my life alone. “
Oosterman echoes Gibson’s sentiments: “The success of the FAR program has come from the connections that are built with students so that they feel comfortable with having that ’go-to’ person for any support or questions during transition. Post-secondary transition can be extremely challenging and even more so if you’re the first in your family to attend. The FAR worker is able to connect students with supports at their school and ease students’ transition with a soft hand-off approach.
“Supports have included mental health, housing, academic, employment, financial, and more,” Oosterman continues. “Alumni are entering potentially the most challenging years of their lives and the FAR program has shown that having continued support and a caring adult available to them can help them succeed in whatever path they choose.”
While the value of the FAR program is clear, its funding to date has relied on one-time grants and donations and is not self-sustainable. Even before the fund’s public launch, community support has been amazing, reports Jo-Anne Brady, Co-Chair of the Pathways Kingston Fundraising Cabinet.
“Pathways extends heartfelt thanks to the W. J. Henderson Foundation for generously providing the leadership gift we needed to set this campaign in motion,” she said at Monday’s launch. “Education is a powerful social determinant of health and this endowment will ensure a lasting positive impact on the youth in this community."
In another example of community support, four Rotary Clubs in Kingston banded together with Rotary International to provide three years of bridge funding for the FAR position, until the endowment reaches its goal. Speaking at the launch, John Gale, President of the Cataraqui-Kingston Club committed to continuing their efforts to achieve the endowment’s goal with a project Rotary has dubbed “Going FARther.”
The Kingston Fundraising Cabinet is enthusiastic in its support for all of Pathways’ initiatives, and in turn, confident they can reach their goal with the help of the Kingston community. In the words of Cabinet member and local business owner, Jim Brown, “You don't have to sell the story of this program, you simply tell the story. It's working – our students know it's working. It's one of Kingston's best success stories."