As we settle into our new normal, we wanted to share what we have been up to and give some insight into the many ways we are still operating. Despite the gradual reopening of schools and daycares across Quebec, Phelps Helps, along with most other organizations are still required to remain closed. We are, however, far from inactive. Behind the scenes, Phelps staff continue to be committed to supporting the participants and their families, no matter where they are. We are working remotely and fine-tuning our already creative and adaptable techniques to ensure we are delivering our best to the community.
During the first week of school closures and the ensuing loss of employment for many in Stanstead, emergency support was our priority, and as an organization that is central in the community, we were one of the first to identify the families that would be in need of emergency intervention. Along with other referrals, coordination of services was set up with Cab Rediker to ensure we were contributing to the food security of these families.
As the extent of the disruption and the time people would be spending in their homes became clear, we adapted and changed our model to fit with the new reality.
As you know, many of our participants were already balancing on the very fine line of failing or dropping out of high school. In response to this situation, we set up a needs assessment and outreach initiative to have a clear understanding of how we can best support our kids. Every one of our 197 participant families were contacted, allowing us to provide comfort and reassurance while completely assessing the situation. The needs assessment exposed the following insights:
- 24/55 high school participants have been identified as ‘AT RISK’ of failing this school year and/or dropping out.
- 29/55 high school participants agreed to start online tutoring
- 23/29 who have agreed to support are ‘AT RISK’
- 6/55 high school participants have limited or no internet access
- 54/55 have access to online learning devices
- High school online support: One-on-one
High school online support: One-on-one
As school closures have a greater impact on our high school participants, we prioritized our efforts on this vulnerable group first. Within one week of the needs assessment, we created a new service to respond to the needs of our participants. On April 14 we launched an online tutoring service that, in its third week is providing an impressive 35+ hours of one-on-one online tutoring and is set to increase to 45 hours of support to 60 children. Our goal is to help guide the students through their remaining school year so that they possess the maximum of chances for passing their school year and to reduce the increased risk of dropping out. We have worked in tandem with the schools to not only identify those at most risk but to troubleshoot any logistical obstacles (lack of device, safe drops of hardcopies of school work etc.). During our needs assessment, we were able to identify those without internet at home and offer sessions over the phone. The online tutoring and sessions we have developed will continue throughout the remaining school year and beyond until the end of July so that school work and be caught up and to set up our valued participants for a successful return to school in September.
Elementary transition: Online support
We know that many of our students become disenfranchised with school during the daunting transition from their local elementary to the large, regional high school a long distance from home. We are working closely with the schools to identify the grade sixers who are at risk of failing and have lost precious time with their school work. From now until the end of July, we will be providing 1 hour a week to approximately 15 students to help close any academic gaps they have and start high-school in September at grade level. The added advantage of creating connections and attaching these vulnerable new high schoolers to Phelps early on.
Spark: hand-on problem solving
Our younger participants will also benefit from our extended programming with packs including a stimulating STEAM activity, free books, games and local resources, created and safe dropped to the homes of 60 children. Participants will have access to a preparatory video to help prompt higher level thinking and guide them so they can be successful on their own. The group will subsequently meet online to discuss and analyze the fun activity.
Our compass program is as strong as ever with our dedicated coordinator accommodating the changing needs of students and businesses and offering services online. So far, 5 have been supported with post-secondary applications, 13 with scholarships and bursaries and 4 with AFE (Aide Financières aux Études) applications. 10 participants are currently being supported with our summer jobs workshops and 6 participants have successfully found summer employment. The Compass program is also collaborating with the UPA (Union Producteurs Agricole) campaign to encourage youth to work on local farms over the summer.
Volunteers and board
To help support this valuable work, we have successfully launched a volunteer recruitment strategy which resulted in 11 new, Canada-wide volunteers, many of which are much needed math tutors. We will be extending our recruitment campaign in order to source volunteers for afternoon and evening work sessions in order to fit around the high-school online learning schedule. Our new pool of online volunteers has made us very dynamic in the way we offer services and this will only reinforce our current offerings.
The new model that we at Phelps have been able to put into place so quickly was possible because of the dedication and commitment of the team who's adaptability of the team has reinforced our dedication to the work we do. Collectively, we increased our hours by 27% to answer the call that came to us from the community. We were needed now, more than ever.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 819 704 0799.