Reclaiming Youth with Hope: A Hope-Focused Service-learning Project

Program snapshot

Age group: Adolescence (12-17)

Gender: Mixed (male and female)

Population served: Aboriginal/Indigenous

Topic: Academic issues; Aggressive/violent behaviours; Alcohol and/or drug use; Gang and/or related criminal activities

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

Location: Alberta

Number of completed Canadian outcome evaluation studies: 0

Continuum of intervention: Primary crime prevention; Secondary crime prevention

Brief Description

The foundation for a Hope-Focused Service Learning (HFSL) project is built on the premise that the prospect of hope encourages individuals to work toward a desired and possible future. The connections between HFSL and prevention are deep and basic. Perhaps the deepest and most basic is that young people who are engaged in defining, solving, and evaluating solutions to problems are less likely to engage in risky behaviours. HFSL combines service to the community with student learnings and hope practices in a way that improves both the student and the community.

Work at the Hope Foundation demonstrates that individuals who do not see a future for themselves have difficulty attaining goals. Once they can identify their hopes, they are able to progress to the next step of setting goals and moving towards them.  HFSL engages students in the educational process by using what they learn in the classroom to solve real-life problems in the community. Students build character, and become active citizens and community members, as they work with others in their school and community to create service.


The main goals of the Hope-Focused Service Learning project are to:

  • Address the issue of Aboriginal gangs, substance abuse and violence;
  • Keep students engaged in school so that they will be able to complete school and move on to productive careers; and
  • Increase school engagement, students’ self-esteem, leadership abilities, citizenship, and career aspirations by 75% while introducing positive role models into their lives to act as mentors.


The appropriate clientele for the Hope-Focused Service Learning project are: Aboriginal students 13-16 years old who attend Montana School and Mother Earth Charter School; principals and teachers of those schools; families of the participating students; and members of the community. There are no specific inclusion or exclusion criteria.

Core Components

Hope-Focused Service Learning (HFSL) combines service to the community with student learning and hope practices in a way that improves both the student and the community. The HFSL program is divided into five phases:

  • Phase One: Students and their teachers explore their hopes and service in a particular subject;
  • Phase Two: They examine hope in their school, neighbourhood and/or community. After they conduct a community needs assessment, they plan a community project with the help of community mentors and members;
  • Phase Three: Students interact with school or community members to carry out a project. Students track what they are learning about themselves, their hopes, and how they are bringing hope to the community through digital stories;
  • Phase Four: Students complete a formal evaluation of their project; and
  • Phase Five: Students, community mentors and members, parents, and their teachers celebrate what they have learned about themselves and their community.

Implementation Information

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

  • Organizational requirements: The organization needs to ensure that Aboriginal children are able to continue to have positive social experiences; they need to spend time at the proposal writing stage, working with partners to reach consensus and develop written terms of reference for the project, clearly delineating benefits, accountability, expectations and responsibilities; and they need to involve youth in the development/planning of the project, allow for different types of learning activities, and have more active learning.
  • Partnerships: Limited information on this topic.
  • Training and technical assistance: Limited information on this topic.
  • 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 Hope-Focused Service Learning was implemented in Hobbema (Alberta) from 2010 to 2013. Funding was provided through the Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF), Government of Alberta.

Main Findings from Canadian Outcome Evaluation Studies

No information available.

Cost Information

A social return on investment (SROI) has been conducted on Hope-Focused Service Learning. The findings from this study have shown the following:

  • The SROI ratio calculated for the Hope-Focused Service Learning program is 12.07:1, which indicates that over the course of three years, the overall social value of investment in the program is $12.07 for every dollar invested; and
  • Social value was created by avoiding suicide and school drop-out, and reallocating mental health, guidance counsellor and police services.


Alberta Community Crime Prevention Organizations. (2015). Social Return on Investment (SROI) Case Study: Reclaiming Youth with Hope. Recipient of Safe Communities Innovation Fund, Government of Alberta. Available from:

For more information on this program, contact:

Hope Foundation of Alberta
Lenora M. LeMay
Telephone: (780) 492-6106

Record Entry Date - 2018-03-12
Record Updated On - 2021-04-29
Date modified: