Life Stabilization Project aims to address life challenges of City School learners

Published in Momentum Fall 2021

When important parts of life are unstable, including housing, childcare, access to transportation and mental health, it makes it difficult to set goals, plan for the future and be successful in pursuing education or securing or maintaining employment.

The Life Stabilization Project is a partnership with the City of Hamilton’s Healthy & Safe Communities team to help learners in City School by Mohawk.

“They have the ability to help us understand the barriers learners face and help us formulate some potential strategies for moving forward to address them,” said Jody Brown, Manager of Community Access, Engagement and Research in the Centre for Community Partnerships and Experiential Learning.

“They know that population best.”

“The City of Hamilton Healthy and Safe Communities Department is excited to collaborate with Mohawk College through the Challenge 2025 initiative and City School,” says Grace Mater, General Manager, Healthy and Safe Communities.

“The focus within our Ontario Works program is to connect those who rely on social assistance programs with the supports and services they need to move towards greater independence and employability. We work to assist individuals to address barriers by connecting them to agencies and programs that focus on Life Stabilization and we can deliver on this by connecting individuals to the City Schools by Mohawk program.”

Healthy & Safe Communities staff now promote City School as part of their intake process and as learners are introduced to the program, City School staff are asking about potential barriers to success and making referrals to community programs.

The goal of Mohawk’s Challenge 2025 initiative is to accelerate and amplify the impact of the City School by Mohawk model, which brings education to targeted neighbourhoods and demographics. If more students can access education or stick with it once they’ve started because their lives outside the classroom are stable, that’s a win for City School, says Brown.

It’s also a win for learners who, through City School, gain access to a pathway into either postsecondary education or meaningful employment.

Partially funded by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario through the Ontario Labour Market Partnership, Challenge 2025 is engaging partners in collaboration and systemic change in a way that removes barriers for learners from traditionally underrepresented groups but also meets the labour demand needs of employers.

The Life Stabilization Project requires a whole-of-community approach that brings together specialists and ensures that City School staff are well aware of the network of resources available, says Brown.

Local research, made possible by the federal College and Community Social Innovation Fund, is also underway to understand how best to strengthen collaboration and referral processes between City School and local health and human services organizations, says Brown.

More broadly, Challenge 2025 will identify where gaps in services exist and bring together partners to collectively advocate for funding for new programs, says Brown.

“Mohawk’s expertise and mandate is education and we now recognize that need can only be met by addressing a whole suite of potential challenges. By leveraging partnerships and integrating City School in a broader network, we can increase the people we reach.”

Photo caption: Jim Vanderveken, Dean Centre for Community Partnerships & Experiential Learning and Grace Mater, General Manager, Healthy and Safe Communities, City of Hamilton