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Equity, School Community

Acting Early, Working Together

The Chagnon Foundation’s work to improve the educational success of young Quebecers

chagnon-logo_200x77

chagnon-logo_200x77

THE MISSION OF the Lucie and André Chagnon Foundation[1] is to prevent poverty by focusing on the educational success of young Quebecers and helping them to reach their full potential. According to recent studies supported by several experts, educational success furthers children’s development in every way: physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. Educational success fights poverty by enabling young people to obtain better employment, enjoy better health and play a more active role in improving our society.

Over the years, the Chagnon Foundation has learned the importance of having a long-term vision when it comes to educational success. Its primary approach consists in supporting the local and regional mobilization of a large number of actors in civil society – organizations, institutions, educators, stakeholders and parents – in order to strengthen their ability to act. This mobilization creates conditions that help all children get a good start in life, thus improving the living conditions of future generations.

 In 2007, to pursue this mission, the Foundation set up three independent organizations in partnership with the Quebec government: Avenir d’enfants, Réunir Réussir and Québec en Forme.[2] The first two play an important role in the area of education. The goal of Avenir d’enfants is to ensure that every child starts school with the tools he or she needs for a successful education, while Réunir Réussir works to support initiatives to keep those students in school. Through the intermediary of these organizations, the Foundation provides support for partnership groups that represent thousands of local organizations in Quebec’s 17 administrative regions and Indigenous communities, thus reaching a very large number of children. Every year, the Foundation allocates a total of approximately $50 million to projects that result from this local and regional mobilization.

 The Foundation has also contributed to several other education initiatives over the past few years:

  • It is a member of the Groupe d’action sur la persévérance et la réussite scolaire au Québec, a coalition on student retention and student success.
  • It participated in the Grandes rencontres sur la persévérance scolaire (a major conference on student retention) in 2013 and coordinated, in conjunction with the event, the creation of a document entitled Poursuivons[3] (available in English as Forging Ahead) that provided a basis for collective decisions on priorities to be adopted in the area of student retention. 
  • In partnership with the Quebec’s Association of educational administrators, the Foundation set up AlphaBravo, a project to foster leadership skills and pedagogical expertise among school principals and school board administrators[4] in order to help improve the academic learning experience of young Quebecers.
  • The Foundation contributed to the French translation of Motion Leadership: The Skinny on Becoming Change Savvy by Michael Fullan, a renowned specialist in education leadership. Copies of the book in both English and French were subsequently distributed to all Quebec school boards.
  • The Foundation financed the Sherbrooke Region School Board’s Research Chair in Student Engagement, Retention and Success, in partnership with the Université de Sherbrooke.
  • It helped finance such projects as Bien dans mes baskets[5] and Cartojeunes.[6]
  • One of the members of the Foundation’s executive also sits on the Conseil supérieur de l’éducation (Quebec Superior Council on Education).

 The Foundation also finances projects, tools and campaigns to increase social awareness. It believes that a society that is aware of the importance of preventing poverty will be more committed to debating collective choices and more likely to embark on new endeavours. To help achieve that goal, in connection with the 2013 Grandes rencontres sur la persévérance scolaire, the Foundation conducted a survey on promoting education and student retention in Quebec.[7] As part of its ongoing efforts to educate the public and create conditions and environments favourable to educational success, the Foundation has also developed the Naître et grandir (Help them grow) website,[8] magazine and campaign to provide parents with valuable information and raise public awareness of the importance of early childhood development.

Although Quebec has made a great deal of progress, there is still much to be done. In 2013, the Institut de la statistique du Québec published the results of its Quebec Survey of Child Development in Kindergarten (Enquête québécoise sur le développement de l’enfant à la maternelle 2012[9]). Study results showed that 25 percent of children in Quebec Kindergartens are considered to be vulnerable in at least one of the five domains of development: physical health and well-being, social competence, emotional maturity, cognitive and language development, and communication skills and general knowledge. By the time young Quebecers have turned 20, 25 percent of them have not obtained a first diploma or qualification.[10]

There is no doubt that taking steps to further children’s very early development and encourage their educational success helps prevent poverty, but it is a long-term endeavour that demands a serious commitment from all spheres of society. This is a major challenge of crucial importance to Quebec. We need to work together: it is only by combining our efforts that we will develop the necessary expertise to prevent poverty and ensure that Quebec’s children have what they need to succeed in school and in life.

EN BREF – La mission de la Fondation Lucie et André Chagnon est de prévenir la pauvreté.  Dans cette perspective, elle concentre ses activités sur le développement du plein potentiel des jeunes Québécois et sur leur réussite éducative. Elle part du principe qu’un jeune épanoui tant d’un point de vue physique, qu’intellectuel, affectif et social aura la chance d’obtenir un meilleur emploi, de jouir d’une meilleure santé et de mieux participer à l’essor de notre société. Afin de mener à bien cette mission, la Fondation a choisi de miser sur la mobilisation locale et régionale ainsi que sur la sensibilisation de la société. Dans le cadre de ses activités, elle soutient de nombreuses initiatives et contribue à plusieurs projets notamment dans le domaine de l’éducation.

illustration: iStock

First published in Education Canada, May 2015

Notes


[1] www.fondationchagnon.org

[2] Note from the editor: These programs do not have English names but can be roughly translated as: Our Children’s Future, Unite for Success, and Quebec in Shape, respectively.

[3] Task Force on School Perseverance and Educational Success in Québec / Groupe d’action sur la persévérance et la réussite scolaire au Québec, Forging Ahead in the Movement for Student Retention and Academic Success in Quebec (3rd Edition: October 29, 2013).

 http://poursuivons.groupeactionperseverance.org/orientations-a-privilegier-au-cours-des-prochaines-annees/

[4] For more information, contact Claude St-Cyr (stcyrc@fondationchagnon.org).

[5] The innovative social initiative Bien dans mes baskets is a preventive psychosocial development program that uses basketball as a tool for intervention.

[6] www.cartojeunes.ca/ is an interactive mapping web platform on Quebec youth (in French only).

[7] www.fondationchagnon.org/en/news/2013/dropping-out-Quebecers-want-action.aspx

[8] http://naitreetgrandir.com/fr/

[9] M. Simard, M.-É Tremblay, A. Lavoie and N. Audet, Enquête québécoise sur le développement des enfants à la maternelle 2012 (Québec: Institut de la statistique du Québec, 2013), 99.

[10] Diplomation et qualification par commission scolaire au secondaire – édition 2014 (Québec: Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport.)

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