By: Jeffrey Low (interviewer) and Shannon Stevens, Frontier College (interviewee)
Frontier College is a national charitable literacy organization that offers literacy and numeracy programs for children and youth. They’re also a sponsor for this year’s Online Community Engagement and Volunteer Fair, and they’re eager to connect with talented McMaster students (like you!) who want to make a difference in the community.
We had a chat with them to learn what they’re all about and how you can make a difference as a volunteer. Read the interview, then remember to register for the fair to get involved!
Tell us a bit about your organization.
Frontier College is a national charitable literacy organization. Since 1899, we have delivered literacy programs to communities throughout Canada. We work collaboratively with community-based agencies, the private sector, Indigenous organizations and public institutions across Canada to provide targeted, innovative literacy and numeracy support for the most vulnerable Canadians. Our activities, programs and services are inclusive of any individual for whom our assistance is welcome and needed.
In Hamilton specifically, we offer literacy and numeracy programs to children and youth. They include reading and learning programs and homework help programs.
What is your organization’s approach to community involvement? Are there specific issues you focus on addressing?
We are committed to finding and using innovative ways to reach the people who need us most. Through a network of volunteers and partner organizations, we offer flexible and accessible literacy support free of charge to children, youth and adults in their communities and homes.
Over the past year, children’s literacy skills have suffered a setback, and this will have a dramatic impact on Canada’s social and economic future. Why does this matter? Beyond the obvious issue of social justice and equity, students who struggle with literacy are at risk of leaving school early and missing out on post-secondary learning.
We know that literacy connects to so many things: finding work, voting, and now more important than ever, understanding health information and protocols. As communities across the country turn their attention to COVID-19 relief efforts, Frontier College’s literacy programs play a vital part in supporting recovery and ensuring that no one is left behind. We are currently the only national organization offering free online literacy programming to children, youth and adults.
Why should students volunteer at your organization? What are some skills they can develop?
Frontier College relies on volunteers for success in everything we do. Each year, our volunteers donate more than 50,000 hours to tutoring math, reading and writing; reading stories; and helping with special events. Volunteers build skills, become a mentor and connect with others to make a real and lasting difference.
There are opportunities to become volunteer leaders in the community by leading programs we offer in the community and becoming Frontier Ambassadors at McMaster. Students further enhance their leadership qualities, gain volunteer and program management experience and develop problem-solving skills.
What have previous volunteers found most rewarding about their experience?
- The connections and bonds they develop with the students they work with
- The positive impact of the volunteering/tutoring experience
- The proud moments when a tutor observes the improvements in a student’s learning and the feedback they receive
- The friendships they establish among volunteers
Fun fact: several leaders changed career paths as a result of their experience with Frontier College.
Do students need any previous experience to get involved?
Individuals do not need teaching experience. Ideally, we want volunteers to tutor for the duration of the school year, and be available and committed once a week for two-to-three hours. While volunteers don’t need to have teaching experience, they should:
- Be open to a variety of people and experiences
- Have English or French language skills (other languages are a definite asset) — math volunteers are also in demand
- Be enthusiastic, patient, flexible and creative
Learn more about the organization
- Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube): @FrontierCollege
- Email: email@example.com
Ready to get involved? Meet Frontier College on September 14
Frontier College is an event sponsor attending the Community Engagement and Volunteer Fair on September 14, 2021, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. EDT (drop-in event).