We gathered on December 15, 2022 to give thanks and appreciation to our students for all their hard work! Here are some pictures from the gathering.
Homework Club receives Ted Rogers Community Grant to help local youth discover their highest potential
On behalf of our team at Org name, I’m pleased to share that we have just won a 2022 Ted Rogers Community Grant to further develop our program that helps <insert details on program receiving funding>. The grant will help us continue to offer this critical program to youth across our community, needed now more than ever.
You can read the full news release here or below.
Ted Rogers Community Grants are awarded to registered charitable organizations or non-profits in Canada that are providing programming to youth ages 15-29 in the areas of education, entrepreneurship, digital literacy or health and sport.
We’d be happy to make someone available for an interview to speak more about the impact of the grant and our local youth program. Please reach out to me directly at <phone, email) to set something up at your convenience.
Thank you for considering the story!
ROGERS HELPS OVER 50,000 YOUTH THROUGH 2022 COMMUNITY GRANTS PROGRAM
TORONTO, November 3, 2022 – Rogers Communications announced today it had awarded its 2022 Ted Rogers Community Grants to over 70 registered charities and non-profits. The Community Grants program supports youth aged 15-29 in the areas of education, digital literacy, health, sport, and entrepreneurship.
“We are proud to partner with local organizations to help young Canadians reach their full potential,” said Tony Staffieri, President and CEO, Rogers Communications. “Our youth are the future, and we need to do everything we can to give them the best start in life."
Since 2017, Rogers has awarded hundreds of Ted Rogers Community Grants for programs that support equity-deserving youth. This year, recipient organizations will help over 50,000 youth in 250 communities across the country.
Rogers invests $5 million annually to create educational opportunities for Canadian youth, including through Community Grants and Ted Rogers Scholarships. It has also contributed more than $10 million over the past decade to create access to youth sports programming through Jays Care Foundation.
For a full list of recipients across Canada, please visit here.
“Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association is grateful to Ted Rogers Community Grant for their donation in support of CIWA’s Youth Mentorship for Immigrant Girls. The project will support the settlement and integration of immigrant girls between the ages of 14 to 21 in school and community while focusing on enhancing their cross-cultural understanding and career readiness. We believe that when young people feel inspired and empowered, they are motivated to seek out and pursue growth opportunities that ensure career readiness and success.”
“Choices for Youth is grateful to have been chosen to receive a 2022 Ted RogersCommunity Grant. For over 30 years Choices for Youth has been changing the lives of young people in our community. We believe that every young person has immense potential, and that with the right set of supports they can achieve their goals. This funding will support our mission to help vulnerable youth secure stable housing, employment, and education while improving health and family stability.”
“NII Explore believes that STEM education is for everyone—and that’s why we are thrilled to be partnering with Rogers to bring high-quality STEM education to communities in Bruce, Grey and Huron counties. With the support of the Ted RogersCommunity Grant, NII Explore will be able to bring the latest technologies to rural students, helping prepare them for the workforce of tomorrow.”
"NPower Canada is honoured to have been named one of Ted Rogers Community Grant 2022 recipients. With Rogers support, NPower Canada will be able to provide in-demand technical training, professional development, and job placement support to 800 underserved youth across the GTA, and help them launch into meaningful and sustainable careers in the digital sector. Together, we can provide employment access to young Canadian job-seekers who need it most and work towards a more equitable society."
“The Ted Rogers Community Grant will allow us to offer one year of our Leaders 4 Life program. Thanks to Rogers, this program is offered at no cost to up to 70 participants at three Clubhouses. Leaders 4 Life is a year-round leaders-in-training program for youth. The program supports vital soft skills development. Plus, it inspires youth to set, reach and attain their goals. Finally, it better prepares them to overcome life’s obstacles. We are grateful to Rogers for their continuous support of BGC Ottawa.”
“Éducaide is fortunate to have the support of Ted Rogers Community Grants for its new project, the Hubble Journey. Thank you very much for recognizing the importance of equipping young people so that, through their perseverence in school, they can reach their full potential and actively participate in building our society. This generous contribution will allow us to continue our direct actions in the field and make a difference with vulnerable teenagers. ”
Rogers is a leading Canadian technology and media company that provides communications services and entertainment to consumers and businesses. Rogersshares are publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: RCI.A and RCI.B) and on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: RCI). For more information, please visit: www.rogers.com or http://investors.rogers.com.
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We live our life in stories
by Katie Simonson
Our Sammy-boy. A young man who we sometimes refer to as the “dad” at Homework Club for his jokes and quirky demeanour is now the proud valedictorian of his 2022 graduating class and we couldn’t be more chuffed about this. Sam was born in Chicago, grew up in North Carolina and moved to Vancouver in 2015. Having been raised by a theologian and pastor, Sam has strong moral roots and a guiding compass that keeps him steady. Since beginning at Britannia in Grade 8, Sam has attended Homework Club and treated our space like a second home. Often with his moppy haired head in a book, Sam’s academic success in the IB program proved that he was a force to be reckoned with and would gladly take on most anyone in a debate about pretty much anything, especially if it was about how many snacks he was allowed to have at Homework Club. If he ever showed up late, it’s because he was training with the cross-country team, a pursuit he has enjoyed all throughout high school. There he met Trevor Stokes, head teacher at Streetfront, our beloved junior alternative program, and a man who is idolized by most and equal to none. In his early years, Sam and his friends worked to build the team and program alike and can now proudly say he has run two full marathons and four half-marathons. Sam is an old soul and considers writing one of his favourite pastimes. He has been a Poetry in Voice enthusiast and was Senior Competition winner in Grade 10.
I had the great honour of placing the valedictory sash around his head and sending him off with best wishes before the grads entered the ceremony. Sam spoke with eloquence, ease and a little bit of sass, playfully poking fun and offering heartfelt words of insight and thoughtfulness. One such quote that stayed with me was this . . .
The essence of what I’m trying to say here is that Britannia isn’t a building. It’s a story. And in the words of writer Sam Wells, “we live our life in stories.” Each of us has come to carry the spirit of Britannia in a beautifully unique way, and as we depart from here to whatever comes next . . . each one of our faces will remain engrained on the diverse fabric of its ongoing life. So congratulations, bruins, not only for grabbing a square with your name on it, but for becoming part of a story with your name in it.
I felt this part truly reflected his time at Britannia and the experience that we try to promote at Homework Club every day when we unstack the chairs, turn on the kettle, open the sign-in desk and let the afternoon unfold . . .
It’s as Evelyn Wang says in the movie “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “we’re all useless alone.” And it’s not just that we need each other, it’s that what it means to exist as individuals is fundamentally bound up in what it means to exist with others. Our future success will not be an individual matter of chasing acclaim or status, but a collective matter of becoming brothers and sisters—defined in the moments where you extend your hand to the vulnerable neighbour, where you service yourself to a community in need. In this case, Bruins, your success has begun at Britannia. And though I can’t tell you exactly what shape success will take in each of our lives, I can tell you that it will be a matter of the family we become along the way, and the stories of love, pain, and laughter we learn to inhabit with one another.
by Katie Simonson
January brought with it an extra week of winter break for our students as the rising number of COVID cases skyrocketed. In an attempt to control the chaos, staff were asked to come to work while the students stayed home. You’d think for most, an extra week off would be a dream come true, but for many of our kids who have little to do and nowhere else to go they were eager for the return. New protocols also meant we had to make some adjustments at Homework Club. Our beloved “Nutella with extra Nutella” sandwiches had to be put on hold and so we were back to packaged goodies and spaced-out seating with limited numbers. Anxious heads peering around the corner on our first day back was familiar as we had been here before, but somehow it felt just as discouraging to know our little program would once again have to readjust to the reality of this world.
But what was perhaps most difficult to accept is that the tutors would not be available in-person and this seems to be news that our kids never quite get used to. It says so much about the tutors impact on their young lives – that hanging out once or twice a week for even a few hours means everything. The relationship building, consistency and academic support does not go unnoticed or unfelt. Its significant and purposeful work. We often talk as a staff that each student at our school deserves to have one adult who is crazy about them and the beloved tutors at Homework Club are truly a part of that mantra.
We hope to soon return to the hustle and bustle, organized chaos, laughter and creative energy that fuels our program and to welcome back our wonderful tutors with socially distanced open arms.
Back to School!
by Katie Simonson
This school year started a little later than usual with a feeling that was full of excitement about returning to full-time classes and perhaps a little disappointment as safety protocols were still being held in place. The entire district moved to a semester model with the attitude that if we went into lockdown again it’s likely that four classes would be much easier to manage than eight for both staff and students. And so it began, the bustling hallways filled with chaos and laughter and playful brawling, witnessing the wide-eyed shock of Grade 8 students and the cool collectedness that the seniors finally get to live out after all these years. There is always an energy, a buzz, a momentum that makes you a little more cheery and animated and full of zest. September marks a new year of sorts where you are eager to do things better and with more ferocity. Its infectious and perhaps unlike most other workplaces.
We made the decision to start Homework Club in the latter half of the month with the thoughtful attitude that it might be good for the students to get a week of class time under their belt before actually needing to do much homework. Clearly, this was the wrong call as we were met with exaggerated and very dramatic outrage by our regular attendees who could hardly wait to return to the club. I was often called out in the hallways by an overeager student proclaiming, “when is it starting and will you be there?” or kids frantically coming down to my office asking for details because they didn’t want to miss out on the big return. The greatest concern, however, was around the status of the tutors. Our wonderful volunteers had worked diligently on Zoom last school year to offer what is always an unparalleled service, but as most of us have experienced over this difficult time, it just doesn’t compare to an in-person encounter. We were not confident that the tutors would be able to return and so held back on giving a straight answer. During a nerve-wracking meeting with the administrative team we learned that indeed they could come back in-person and were thrilled to welcome them. I feel that so much of their presence and the students longing for their return is a collective hope for normalcy again; what is known and comfortable and simple in their sometimes complex lives. The other day, while I was making sandwiches for the kids, a student who had started attending last year and so had only experienced packaged snacks said to me “so what are the sandwiches all about?” and a senior student turned to her and said “this is what Homework Club used to be. This is what we know. Its tradition!” and it warmed my heart to think that even something as simple as a Nutella and peanut butter sandwich provided a small sense of routine and familiarity and goodness.
As we look towards this first early break in the school year to celebrate Thanksgiving and all that we have been given, I am mindful of the continuous and often daily support our students need. Sometimes essentials that we take for granted are scarce and it’s our great privilege and responsibility to provide a space and the resources for them to feel supported and cared for. This season, I am excited to begin this journey once again with old faces and new coming through the Homework Club door, eager for fellowship and fun, treats and great conversation.
– Katie Simonson
Homework Club Facilitator
The last three months of school before summer break are always a little daunting for teachers and often evoke the attitude that you have to “just make it through.” It’s a mad dash that demands an intimidating level of focus and never-ending hustle. You count down the days, you treat the weekends like refuge from the impending chaos and you hold on for dear life hoping and praying that you’ll avoid burn out before the bliss of July arrives. And so, you can imagine that amidst all of the madness it becomes rather difficult to be present, to be content with exactly where you are and to just experience what’s unfolding before you.
I have thought about these last three months all year because finally my students are graduating and I am finding it to be far more bitter than sweet. I can hardly wait for them to enter into this exciting new chapter in their extraordinary lives, for some to be humbled by how little they know and others to finally find the confidence they always had within and flourish. But selfishly, I also want to hold them close to me, to protect them from the unknown and keep them young for as long as possible. I’ve sat with many of them over the last months while they’ve discussed their futures with delight and sometimes dread, with wonder and worry. Like so many of us did at that turning point, they feel that they have to have it all figured out as if their lives are a story that’s already been written. My advice is always to be kind to themselves and to others as they venture into this unknown place. To be mindful that the path is rarely effortless but will likely require a lot of work, the kind of work worth doing. That this life is not about what you do, how much you make or who you know, but rather a journey of discovering your true self and sharing that with all who are lucky enough to know you.
At Homework Club, I will so miss the familiarity of faces, personalities and little quirks. The casual conversation about boys and books and everything in between. The endless hours of scholarship and application editing where I had the great privilege to dive into the depths of who these young people really are. I keep thinking that this might be the last time I get to have a moment of meaning with some of them before they get caught up in finals and graduating and ensuing celebrations. It’s hard to know when things are really ending and what the right words are to express someone’s meaning in your life. I suppose amidst the impending chaos that all I can do is be present and content with exactly where we are and to just experience those moments unfold before me.
~ Katie Simonson
Homework Club Co-Facilitator
Scott Thomson, an avid Homework Club participant for many years, was voted Valedictorian by his peers for the Graduating Class of 2020!
Scott has shared some beautiful words about what the Homework Club has meant to him since he started in Grade 8. Thank you, Scott! We are so proud of you for this great achievement.
As the 2020 school year comes to a close, we want to congratulate ALL of our students – we are proud of each and every one of you, and look forward to hearing of the great things that lie ahead for you all.
Homework club has been a major part of my 5 year journey at Britannia Secondary School. I have attended the program weekly since my first week of high school in grade 8. I have been involved with the program every week since and am very grateful for it. Having somewhere to go after school multiple days a week to receive guidance and tutoring was very beneficial for my studies. It was a very welcoming environment for me and my friends to study while being nourished with snacks and hot meals that some of us did not have elsewhere. We also had access to computers and printers at the program which helped us to complete some projects that could not be done at home.
For me, the guidance and tutoring was the most valuable part of the program. I always felt comfortable to talk with the staff who ran the program including Robyn, who was at the program for 4 of my 5 years at Britannia. My friends and I knew we could always approach Robyn about anything that was going on in our lives, especially including help with homework. The tutors that I worked with in the program were always friendly and very helpful. I enjoyed being able to work so closely with university students and be able to talk to them about what I should expect from high school and post-secondary.
I am very fortunate to have had the ability to learn from people who had gone through the same experiences that I was going through. I do not believe that I would have been as comfortable or successful in high school if it were not for the Homework Club at Britannia.
Describing this time in our lives has become such a difficult task. There are moments where I consider it nothing short of surreal; even months in I can’t quite wrap my head around it. There are other times I find it calming, the expectations softened, the world enjoying a slower pace of life. I struggle between feeling guilty about what I should and should not be doing with all of this free space and then again I remember to have grace for myself and others as we navigate the unknown; now is not a time to be shameful or judgmental. I can experience these things within the stretch of day and it can be overwhelming to recognize all of these little significant pieces of myself and know how to respond to them. I say this because any time I feel that the chaos is about to wash over me and I fear being pulled under I am always able to find my peace again, that safe place that is good and grounding. But then I am also reminded that I am an adult, and a counsellor who is somewhat adept at responding to these needs and I think about our students. I worry that they are also going through the tidal wave of emotions and not knowing how to cope, not being able to find their safe place. A student said to me not long ago in a phone conversation that Homework Club is where he goes and what he does. He never had to question that because it was just part of his routine and there was comfort in the consistency. I think all of us are feeling the loss of little moments that used to make up our days and weeks like this. Things that were steadfast, trustworthy and good. I like to imagine that most of us during this time have taken at least a second to consider being more present in the future and enjoying what is happening right in front of us. I had such an experience not long ago when I stopped in at Britannia and visited the Homework Club workspace. It was rather eerie to be in this silent and empty room that is usually filled with so much laughter and goodness. I could imagine where each little group sits, backpacks slung over the backs of chairs while their heads are huddled together collectively working on an assignment. Snacks being divvied up between friends and the eager anticipation of what will be served for dinner and which table will be chosen to eat first. There is always a new, shy student at the entrance being coaxed by a friend to join the festivities and a slew of tutors eager to invite them in. The space is never anything short of jubilant. I am so hopeful that we can go back to experiencing those times together, to share in that comfort, for our lives to find that familiar rhythm again, but I am also wanting to believe we will do it with a little more presence and gratitude to these little moments we hold so dear.
~ Kaitlee Simonson
The Meaning of Clapping
This year was my first time hosting a holiday party for the Homework Club students as a new co-facilitator. I admit to being a little nervous about what the night would bring, but it was nothing short of absolutely wonderful. The kids were so excited to be there, to spend time with one another, to be celebrated. I think it was so important that their efforts and determination be acknowledged with praise, good company, great food and endless treats.
One moment throughout a night of many wondrous happenings was with the tutors. We wanted to be sure to thank them and their tireless efforts and in the midst of singing their praises the students responded with hooting, hollering and clapping that went on quite endlessly. I thought it was such a pure testament to the extraordinary impact these tutors have had on our kid’s lives. It made me momentarily reflect on how many times I had seen kids run to set up the chess board because they were determined to beat the pre-med tutor this week or share some inside joke with one of them, how many times our kids have smiled shyly when being greeted or praised or even just casually acknowledged as someone worth noticing. It spoke to the significance of what it means to these kids when a tutor will patiently sit for hours working on something little or remember to ask about a big test that another kid was feeling anxious about.
We see these moments as inconceivably small and unremarkable but to young minds who have perhaps never been seen as smart or worthy or capable it has an incredible effect. The endless clapping was not just a simple thank you, but a means of gratitude for letting them be seen, heard and understood.
~ Kaitlee Simonson