Centennial’s HYPE Summer Program Offers a Path Forward to City Youth
Some 120 young people committed a big part of their summer to participate in HYPE – Helping Youth Pursue Education – Centennial College’s tuition-free learning experience that demystifies higher education and opens doors to potential career paths. HYPE promotes educational attainment by reducing barriers to participation for youth living in Toronto’s under-served neighbourhoods.
Over the past six weeks the students, aged 17 to 29, took one of seven courses in business fundamentals, human development, automotive technology, esthetics, trades/computers/technology, digital media and culinary arts. Many HYPE students are well past high-school age, having gotten distracted by life and with no definitive plans to pursue higher education.
The HYPE Class of 2018 graduates were recognized for completing their summer experience at a graduation ceremony on August 9. Family members and friends gathered at the college’s Events Centre at Progress Campus to listen to some inspiring words and applaud the graduates as they crossed the stage to collect their special certificates.
Among the speakers were Anthony Bertin, Centennial’s Manager of Community Outreach, Ahmed Bawah, Youth Outreach Coordinator, and student Amanda Bilow, who delivered the valedictorian address to the cheering class. Like many in the room, Amanda had overcome significant personal challenges to try college for the summer and determine she had the confidence to enrol in a career-oriented program in the fall.
The summer college experience has been proven to change minds: approximately one-third of HYPE graduates go on to pursue full-time studies at college, either at Centennial or elsewhere. Many participants are referred to the program by a social worker or community outreach worker in their neighbourhood.
Benefits to participants include HYPE Works, featuring skill-credentialing workshops to increase employability, support experience in job fairs and mentoring. In addition, HYPE Works Express is a one-week program designed to increase employment readiness for youth who have to work prior to full-time study, or who may have to work part-time during college. The program receives generous financial support from the TD Bank Group.