A Tap on the Shoulder

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A Tap on the Shoulder

$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

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

What is the number one reason why students do not go on to attend University? Simply, because students indicate that they have not been asked in a meaningful way. Dr. Axworthy and the University of Winnipeg have worked tirelessly to develop a concept for Community Learning that has touched many thousands of children and youth in a very meaningful way.

Building on its founding values, the University of Winnipeg has, over the past five years, instituted a series of innovative initiatives in an effort to extend its commitment to community learning to deal with issues of access and community capacity building.

We have been especially focused on addressing the barriers faced by individuals who have not been able to access resources or whose needs are not fully addressed within conventional school and educational structures.

Kevin Chief and UWinnipeg’s Innovative Learning Center (ILC) is responding to the disparity in graduation rates with unique learning initiatives/programs for inner-city, Aboriginal and new Canadian youth. The programs are implemented through local schools that are helping students to develop an education plan, increase academic achievement, earn tuition credit accounts, gain valuable leadership training experience, be employed over the summer months and connect to their community in positive ways. This model is referred to as “A Tap on the Shoulder”.

Since 2008, the ILC has served over 6000 students aged 7-21 through programming during the school day, after school hours, on weekends and in the summer months.

Using the resources and the infrastructure of the University of Winnipeg, the ILC programming serves as a ‘tap on the shoulder’ for children and youth. ILC curriculum nurtures an understanding of environmental stewardship, Indigenous science and traditional knowledge, and incorporates the Seven Sacred Teachings.

Kevin Chief has built amazing partnerships with organizations throughout Winnipeg with the goal of increasing graduation rates and providing much needed access to post secondary institutions. Kevin has created unprecedented partnerships with Manitoba Department of Education, Provincial School Divisions, Foundations, non-profit organizations and the business community to support the ILC programs.

Innovative Learning Centre Programs

The Model School

In operation since September, 2008, the Model School is located in the UWinnipeg Collegiate. 30 Model School students receive a full scholarship valued at $10,000.00 per year to attend the Collegiate for Grades 9 – 12. Students are integrated into the Collegiate classes and all costs including transportation, nutrition, registration and supplies are all included in the scholarship.
As well engaging in a rigorous academic program, the Model School students receive additional training in resume and life skill building activities including coaching and refereeing certification, First Aid/ CPR, driving Licensing and mentorship. 14 students have graduated to date.

Eco-Kids on Campus

Three Elementary Schools are selected each year to participate in the program where Grade 6 students are brought on campus once a week to participate in various science activities taught by University Professors. The program is free to all students including lunch, transportation and supplies. The program was extremely successful, and word-of-mouth led to a demand from numerous other schools in the inner-city area to offer the program to them. There has been over 300 students who have participated to date.

Eco-U Summer Kids Camp

The Eco-U Summer Kids Camp has operated since 2007, with over 4000 youth between the ages of 7 and 12 participating to date. The Eco-U Summer Kids Camp is a week-long day camp offered 5 times over the course of the summer. Children attend for one week at no cost, and receive free transportation, lunch, snacks, t-shirts, and equipment.

About You
About You
First Name


Last Name


Confirm a user name that will be displayed publicly to identify your entry

Gerri Zacharias

About You, Your Group, or Your Organization

The University of Winnipeg Innovative Learning Centre

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


Twitter URL

@uwinnipeg tweeps! #winnipeg

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

First Nations people, Métis people.

What best describes your group or organization

Elementary or Secondary school, University, Technical Institute or College, Non-profit organization.

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

1‐5 years

Define your idea / project in 1-2 short sentences

The ILC offers unique programs that increase access for under-represented students to attend post-secondary institutions by creating a Tap on the Shoulder.

Select the stage that best applies to your solution

Growth (the project is up and running and is starting to move forward)

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

The collective outcomes of these programs and partnerships created by Kevin Chief include marked improvements in participating students’ academic achievement, and stronger links between parents, schools and teachers. These University-based programs have removed a stigma that students feel with other programs targeted at low income students; they feel that the University is a place for them and not an exclusive, closed institution. Participants and their families have also gained access to an incredible source of social capital as they have built relationships and made connections with students, faculty and staff on campus and learned how to tap into various opportunities for social, academic and financial support of which they may not otherwise have been aware.

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

We hope to continue to provide programs that engage schools, families and students to graduate and reach thier fullest potential

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

It is the belief of the Univesity of Winnipeg and the Innovative Learning Centre to demonstrate that the various initiatives undertaken thus far can be given a shared framework and to illustrate that their combined results set the stage for redefining the role of the University and its relations with the broader world it serves. Additionally we hope to to generate a discussion on how to prioritize the issue of community learning as a central pillar of post-secondary education in the 21st century, and to examine how we – faculty, staff, students and community members alike – can advance this enhanced mandate.

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

Through the networking abilities of Kevin Chief the ILC has developed many unique partnerships with the Manitoba Government, public education, non-profit organizations and foundations including the University of Winnipeg, River East Transcona School Division, True North Organization, Price Enterprises, the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development, the Winnipeg Aboriginal Sports Achievement Centre, Canadian National Railway, Enbridge, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Actua and numerous philanthropists who have all been incredibly supportive and committed to a shared common mandate of increasing academic achievement for Aboriginal students and increasing graduation rates.

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.

The Innovative Learning Centre is very thrilled to now have Kevin Chief representing the people of Point Douglas in the Manitoba Legislative Assembly. Kevin Chief has been appointed as the Minister for Children and Youth Opportunities. We are excited to continue to work with the Government of Manitoba to increase academic achievement, improve graduation rates and reduce the disparity in educational attainment for Aboriginal children and youth.

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)

The Innovative Learning Centre receives substantial support from the surrounding community, businesses, NGO's, non-profits and school boards in ways beyond dollars. What has been remarkable is that there are many people willing to donate their time and efforts to support students by volunteering, mentoring, providing training and expertise. The efforts of the people involved has been inspiring. The children and youth that are supported will have many networks and relationships built by the time they graduate.

Do you currently have funding for your idea or project?

Yes (answer the next two questions)