DreamCatcher Mentoring: E-Mentoring for Northern High School Students

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DreamCatcher Mentoring: E-Mentoring for Northern High School Students

$50,000 - $100,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

DreamCatcher Mentoring (DCM) is an innovative e-mentoring and leadership program that connects high school students in Yukon and Nunavut with Canadian mentors who work in the students' aspired career-of-choice. The DCM program was developed in response to the declining number of students that enter and graduate from high school in northern Canada.

DCM staff believes that an empowering, self-directed and high-quality mentorship will give students the confidence, leadership, and skills needed to create attainable goals, complete their education, and work towards their dreams and aspirations. The enhanced opportunities for continued education which flow from this process encourage DCM students to continue their schooling through post-secondary and/or diploma and certificate training.

DCM was officially launched with a pilot program in April 2005 in Carcross, Yukon, a small town of just 400 people, with the media, government and local communities. For one month, DCM ran a pilot project matching 14 students (Grades 7-9) from Carcross Community School with 14 Canadian professionals eager to help northern youth identify school and career objectives. Unlike traditional forms of mentoring, DCM hosted discussions solely on its website: www.dreamcatchermentoring.ca. In partnership with the Yukon Department of Education (YDE) and the Carcross/Tagish First Nation (C/TFN), DCM also included a month-long, supplementary curriculum designed to get students to think critically about their future, culminating with a day-long work placement in Whitehorse.

Following the pilot program’s initial success, the DreamCatcher Yukon Mentoring Society was founded in 2005 as a not-for-profit organization under the Yukon Society Act. Since 2005, DCM has provided 800 Yukon and Nunavut students (representing over 20 different schools and 19 separate northern communities) with high-quality E-Mentoring experiences by being paired with Canadian Mentors across Canada working in the students' dream careers.

DCM has developed an innovative form of online mentorship in an effort to provide northern youth with access to a diverse group of enthusiastic and qualified mentors across Canada. Because of the virtual nature of our program, we are able to attract Mentors from all corners of Canada. This e-mentoring process provides a unique opportunity for northern high school youth to interact with their mentors through a secure online environment, and connects them with career professionals with whom they would otherwise not have had the chance to communicate with, especially those students living in rural communities.

One of the measures of our success has been tracking the graduation rates of our participants. With data from the Yukon Department of Education (YDE), it was determined that 94% of DCM participants had either graduated from high school or were still in school. This suggests that students who participate in our program are more likely to graduate high school compared to students that don’t participate. This is a significant result and DCM is continuing to work with the YDE to generate additional statistics in order to better understand how the DCM program lends to post-secondary and training success.

DCM recruits mentors mainly through word of mouth and through existing mentors. We can draw from our approved 1000+ mentors in our database or the 800 we’ve had participate since 2005. The application process starts with our online registration form. If there is a potential match with a student, we put that mentor through a criminal record check and personal reference check review before making the match. The matches typically last 2-4 months depending on the school and teacher.

This coming school semester (Jan-June 2012), DCM will be engaging Grade 9-12 students in 8 communities in Yukon (incld. Mayo, Teslin, Carcross, Whitehorse) and 2 communities in Nunavut (Baker Lake and Igloolik).

About You
About You
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About You, Your Group, or Your Organization

DreamCatcher Mentoring

Please confirm that this project could benefit First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples


What categories best describe who your group or organization serves (check all that apply)

First Nations, Métis and Inuit people, Other.

What best describes your group or organization

Non-profit organization.

How long have you, your group, or your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Define your idea / project in 1-2 short sentences

DCM is an online e-mentoring program that connects northern high school students with Canadian mentors around the world working in their aspired dream careers.

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Expanding (it has been running for a while, has grown, you know it is making a difference and now you want to expand)

Social Impact
Please tell us about the social impact of your idea or proect

DCM is striving to curb high school drop-out rates among students in Canada's North.
Given that DCM is focused on northern Canadian communities, a majority of our students identify themselves as First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples. Depending on the community, it could be a mix of Aboriginal and non-aboriginal backgrounds, or virtually 100% aboriginal. In fact, many of our Mentors also identify themselves as Aboriginal, which is a fantastic outcome, as this provides great role models to students.
Recognizing the importance of indigenous tradition and northern values, DCM provides training to Mentors to help students complete the traditional Medicine Wheel, which helps students reflect on their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual goals to lead a balanced life at work and home.

Your Future Goal(s): Tell us what you hope to achieve with your idea or project in the next year

With a presence in Yukon and Nunavut, DreamCatcher wants to satisfy demand from teachers and expand its program to the NWT

In 5 years, what will be different as a result of your idea/project?

By 2017, DCM expects to have reached its 2000th high school student in providing high-quality one-on-one e-mentoring experiences focused on career/work-life balance. In terms of impact, the DCM program keeps northern youth engaged in school and supports them in reaching their educational and career goals. While the impact of such an endeavour is as immeasurable as it is invaluable to those whose lives are involved, the benefits of the DCM program will be, and are already, seen in Canadian communities on a closely interconnected local and national level.

With a higher rate of high school graduates, northern communities will enjoy greater economic stability, better physical and mental health, and grow a strong population base for the economic, social and political development of Canada.

Tell us about the people/ partnerships that are already involved and why they are important to your idea or project.

DCM has a talented staff of four people and an illustrious Board of Directors of five individuals. DCM success is dependent on the partnerships we’ve developed over the last 7 years:

Yukon Department of Education - Approved programming and curriculum; permits program to be available to the schools and teachers.

Iqaluit District Education Authority - Endorses the DCM program to be facilitated in Nunavut schools.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - Provides critical funding

Canadian Institutes of Health Research - Provides critical funding

Carcross/Tagish First Nation – endorses program and provides guidance on FN curriculum

If there are other people/partners that you will reach out to tell us who they are and why they will be important to your idea or project.

With DCM’s desire to expand the program to the Northwest Territories, DCM will need to forge partnerships with local NWT communities, schools (teachers, principals, parents), councils, and governments. DCM will need to reach out to the NWT Department of Education to get their endorsement to offer our program to NWT schools.

Describe the kinds of support you receive (other than money) or will need to support your idea or project (e.g.: donated, space, equipment and volunteers)

In addition to the support from our partnerships listed above, DCM is dependent on Mentor volunteers. Our mentors are carefully recruited, screened and matched to provide an optimal e-mentoring experience for both the student and Mentor. For some Mentors, DCM is facilitating a unique exposure to a different Canadian culture by interacting with the students, most of whom are Aboriginal Canadians. This program orchestrates a novel way to bring Canada’s North and South closer together, bridging the cultural and educational divides.

Do you currently have funding for your idea or project?

Yes (answer the next two questions)