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Dec 12, 2016

Raising the Grade Success story


Thank you so much for your continued support.  Your generous donation  enables us to provide homework support to children and youth across Canada. 

We’re pleased to share Israel’s story with you.  Israel is a member of the Raising the Grade program, aimed at increasing academic skills, high school graduation rates and access to post-secondary education for at-risk youth from a select group of Boys and Girls Clubs across the country.

Israel's dreams become reality

Israel Mohammed saw her mother and thought she was dreaming.

Israel and her brother immigrated from Ethiopia to St. John’s, NL, in 2012 when she was just 14 years old. Their mother was already living in Canada and Israel had not seen her in seven years.

“When I first saw her I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘Is that my mom?’” says Israel. “Even after living here for more than a year I would wake up thinking I was dreaming. I couldn’t believe I was with my mom.”

However, Israel’s new life wasn’t an easy one.

“I didn’t speak English before I came here so it was difficult to communicate with people,” she remembers. “I was very friendly back home—I knew everyone and was such a chatterbox, but after I came here I was very quiet because I didn’t know what to say or how to say it.”

One of Israel’s ESL instructors recommended the Raising the Grade™ program at Boys and Girls Clubs of St. John’s. Offered by Rogers

Communications, the after-school program allows youth to explore their interests, connect with mentors and tutors, increase their digital literacy, and plan for post-secondary education.

“It was wonderful—there are no words to explain it,” she says excitedly. “I would go three or four days a week to work on my school assignments and there was always someone there to help me with my language.”

It didn’t take long for Israel to blossom. She became a top student, more self-assured and more social with her Boys and Girls Club friends.

Her success allowed her to step into a facilitator role for the Raising the Grade™: Youth Stories Research Project, a peer-based initiative that explores and assesses the impact the Raising the Grade™ program has on its participants.

“We did research about how the program helped students,” she says.

“Then we had to present that information to our community and share our stories. I used to be kind of shy about my words, but being part of the Raising the Grade™ program helped so much. I can speak about the Stories Project in front of people and have more confidence.”

Now 18 years old and studying at Memorial University, Israel plans on pursuing a career in the medical field and staying in St. John’s.

“It is home now. Everyone is helpful and great, and I love it here.”

However, her greatest wish is to share the Raising the Grade™ program with kids who could benefit from it the most.

“In the future, I hope I can open a similar program, especially for girls who have limited access to education.”

“I don’t think I would be here today without the program.”

Dec 6, 2016

A studio of dreams

A studio of dreams at the Kawartha Lakes Club
A studio of dreams at the Kawartha Lakes Club

We are very grateful for your continued support to Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.  Your donations allow us to continue providing much-needed programs and services to underserved children and youth across the country.

We are pleased to share with you an article about opening a music studio at the Kawartha Lakes Club.  This is a welcomed addition to the Club, creating space for aspiring young musicians from the community to record their music, which they would otherwise not be able to do.


 If the Community Builds It...

As Lacey picks out the notes to Dust in the Wind on her guitar, she doesn’t even hear a whisper from youth down the hall in The Warehouse after school.  That’s because she’s in the soundproof music studio of this very active youth centre at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Kawartha Lakes.


“I love playing guitar,” Lacey says. “It’s so therapeutic.” 


The Grade 12 student is a regular at The Warehouse and is in the music studio every chance she gets. 


Although it was built less than a year ago, the studio has brought the community together and has had a profound impact on the Club’s young people.


It was initiated by a legacy donation and has been completed thanks to the unique talents and hard work of a diverse group of volunteers. Lindsay residents Bill Jay and Morley Coombs donated $50,000 to the Club with the goal of sharing their love of music with generations of young people.


When three local recording engineers (Frank Watt, Garrett Drach and Dante Winkler) learned that the Club was creating a music studio, they volunteered their expertise to ensure the space was designed and built according to world-class standards. 


With the construction nearly completed in June 2014, a group of AstraZeneca employees stepped in to put the finishing touches on the studio. They donated time and materials on AstraZeneca’s Community Connection Day at the Club, painting and putting sound baffles on the wall.


Now, the Club’s recording studio has become an important community resource. 


“This is a place where young people can explore the world of music, both in front of the microphone and at the mixing board,” explains Robert Cyr, the Club’s Manager of Community and Volunteer services. 


Sound engineers Winkler and Drach are still on the volunteer roster, sharing their knowledge and personal time to give Club youth a range of opportunities for expanding their creativity and skills.    


Cyr says he is amazed by how deeply music connects and resonates with some of the teens, and Lacey agrees.


“Music helps me relax. I feel calm,” she says with a smile. Lacey puts down her guitar and makes room at the microphone for Andrew, a teen who is known around The Warehouse as “the DJ.” 

Andrew has high-functioning autism and a love of music and singing.  He likes to manage the playlist at The Warehouse, with a preference for anything by Lady Gaga.


Lacey and Andrew are on a subcommittee of the Club’s youth council, planning a number of upcoming concerts, jams and rap contests in the music studio. 


Cyr, meanwhile, is exploring options for expanding the room to accommodate more musicians and bigger instruments.


“We’ve been given this amazing gift and it’s become a catalyst for growing music in the community,” he says.  “If we can expand the space here, then I think the floodgates will open.”


Thank you for your generous donations.  We would like to wish you a happy holiday season.  We look forward to providing you with our updates in 2017. 

Sep 12, 2016

Boys and GIrls Clubs Homework Help programs

Raising the Grade participants
Raising the Grade participants

Thank you for your generous support of Boys and Girls Clubs’ Homework Help programs. 

Children and youth across Canada made their way back to school this week.  To help children succeed in school, most Boys and Girls Clubs offer homework help in the after school timeframe.  A great example is the Raising the Grade (RTG) program. 

Raising The Grade supports at-risk youth 12 to 18 to explore, set, and achieve their academic and career goals by offering academic support, post-secondary and career discovery, and opportunities to use technology and quality online resources in RTG Tech Centres. Through hands-on learning opportunities, a specific focus on personal interests and goals, and supportive relationships with mentors and volunteers, young people who participate in RTG are supported to achieve:

• Graduation from high school

• Insight about their personal interests and how to pursue them

• Sufficient credits and grades for PSE, including apprenticeship, college or university

• Digital literacy skills

• Career aspirations that match their personal interests and goals

The program has been active for several years and we have received positive feedback from participants and their parents who have indicated that this program has been very helpful.  Your generous support allows Clubs to continue providing this much-needed resource for the children and youth we serve.


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