Pathways to Education Program

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: No specific targeted population

Topic: Academic issues; Social/economic disadvantage

Setting: Rural/remote area; Urban area; Community-based setting

Location: Manitoba; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Quebec

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 1

Continuum of intervention: Primary crime prevention

Brief Description

The Pathways to Education Program, otherwise known as Pathways, provides multi-faceted and long-term support to young people living in low-income neighbourhoods.

The program is centered on academic support; community mobilization; counselling and social work; job employment; leadership and youth development; mentoring – tutoring; skills training; and truancy prevention.


The main goals of Pathways program are to:

  • Encourage youth to successfully complete high school;
  • Motivate youth to become actively engaged in their career development; and
  • Improve access to post-secondary education for disadvantaged youth.


The appropriate clientele for the Pathways program are high school students between the ages of 13 and 17 years old who live in low-income neighbourhoods with high drop-out rates.

Participants are referred to the Pathways program by their parents and/or guardians. Youth may also be self-referred to the program.

To participate in the program, youth must be attending high school and living in one of the program’s targeted high drop-out neighbourhoods.

Core Components

The Pathways program consists of:

  • Academic tutoring: This component is delivered by volunteers (mostly university students) 4 nights a week. With a focus on homework and other learning activities, it is hoped that students make progress in core subjects (English, French, math, science, history, and geography) and become competent learners;
  • Social supports – mentoring: Specialty mentoring (which focuses on developing talents and interests through a series of group-based activities) and career mentoring (which assists students in pursuing post-secondary goals) are provided to participants;
  • Advocacy: A student-parent support worker (SPSW) follows the student’s participation in the program, school attendance and performance, and intervenes with the school to address academic issues; and
  • Financial support: The program provides students with bus tickets for transportation to and from school and vouchers, as needed, for school lunches. In addition, for each year of participation, the students receive a $1,000 (CAD) bursary. They may also receive up to a maximum of $4,000 (CAD) for post-secondary education or training.

Implementation Information

Some of the critical elements for the implementation of this program or initiative include the following:

  • Organizational requirements: The lead organization must ensure proper analysis of community needs. In other words, they must be aware of those communities that have a high drop-out rate and a high percentage of low-income families. The lead organization must also mobilize the community in order to establish a leadership that is ready to carry out the program and build strong relationships with other community organizations.
  • Partnerships: The success of the Pathways program depends on its many partnerships with community members and volunteers, community-based agencies, secondary schools and school boards, and post-secondary institutions.
  • Training and technical assistance: Volunteers and tutors attend a training session at the beginning of the year so that they will be able to provide the best support necessary when working with youth in the program.
  • Risk assessment tools: Limited information on this topic.
  • Materials & resources: Limited information on this topic.

International Endorsements

The most recognized classification systems of evidence-based crime prevention programs have classified this program or initiative as follows:

  • Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development: Not applicable.
  • Crime Solutions/OJJDP Model Program Guide: Not applicable.
  • SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: Not applicable.
  • Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy: Not applicable.

Gathering Canadian Knowledge

Canadian Implementation Sites

The Pathways program has been implemented throughout Ontario, including Ottawa, Kitchener, Hamilton, and Kingston (2001-2005). The Pathways program has also been implemented in Montreal (Quebec); Winnipeg (Manitoba); and Halifax (Nova Scotia).

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

An outcome evaluation study of the Pathways program was conducted in 2001-2005 by Rowen and Gosine. A quasi-experimental, mixed methods approach (surveys and interviews) was used to evaluate the effectiveness of the Pathways program.

Results from this evaluation showed the following:

  • The Pathways program had succeeded in promoting greater school attendance among youth. In their Grade 9 year, the students in the historical Regent Park cohort missed an average of 10.8% of full school days. The first Pathways cohort missed 3.4% fewer days (10.8% versus 7.4%) in its Grade 9 year; and
  • Comparisons between Pathways students and the historical cohort in subsequent grades similarly attest to the success of the program in reducing student absenteeism. In Grade 10, the mean absenteeism rate of the first Pathways cohort was slightly less than half that of the historical cohort (18.6% for the historical cohort compared with 8.8% for Pathways cohort 1), with the second Pathways cohort showing an even lower mean for its Grade 10 year. In Grade 11, the mean absenteeism rate for the first Pathways cohort was 7.4% lower than that for the historical cohort (8.5% versus 15.9%).

For more information refer to Rowen & Gosine’s (2005) publication.

Cost Information

In 2009, the cost per youth involved in the Pathways program was approximately $4,000 (CAD) per year in Ontario and $3,500 (CAD) per year in Quebec (Pathways to Education, 2010).

In addition to this figure, Boston Consulting Group conducted a social return on investment study of the Pathways program, and found that for every $1 (CAD) invested, there was a $24 (CAD) return (Boston Consulting Group, 2011).


Boston Consulting Group. (2011). BCG Assessment of Pathways to Education. Executive Summary. Available from:  

Pathways to Education. (2010). Pathways to Education. Program Introduction and Overview. Available from:

 Rowen, N., & Gosine, K. (2005). Final Report of the Pathways to Education Program. Submitted to the Wellesley Urban Health Research Program. Available from:  

For more information on this program, contact:

Pathways to Education Canada
6 Adelaide Street East, Suite 800
Toronto, Ontario M5C 1H6
Telephone: (416) 646-0123, ext. 301

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-05
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: