FCJ Refugee Centre
“Immigrant and Refugee Youth Mentoring Project” Grant
FCJ Refugee Centre, a Toronto-based community agency serving refugees and others at risk due to their immigration status, received a two-year grant to develop peer mentoring services for immigrant and refugee youth navigating their integration into Canadian society. The Immigrant and Refugee Youth Mentoring Project was designed to provide enhanced support for youth ages 14 to 24 who are in a precarious position due to their un-decided immigrant status.
The project design included developing a series of weekly training sessions for youth to access information to help them navigate Canada’s immigrant-dedicated services and programs for refugees. These drop-in sessions also served to inform participants about Ontario’s educational system and career pathways leading to job opportunities. The FCJ Refugee Centre used a workshop-based approach for these sessions to promote a stress free environment that allowed youth to develop support networks. The Immigrant Refugee Youth Mentoring Project likewise included formal mentoring opportunities. This initiative saw tremendous participation as between 20-25 youth attended the weekly drop-in training sessions. Roughly 150 different youth took advantage of the Immigrant and Refugee Youth Mentoring Project in Year One while close to 80 new participants joined the program in Year Two.
In addition to weekly drop-in sessions and mentoring, the program offered youth an opportunity to gain valuable workplace experience by volunteering at the Centre. This aspect of the program helped participants work toward their individual professional goals while gaining Canadian experience in a dynamic, multi-cultural setting. Accessing this type of training is especially important for youth with precarious immigrant status as they have very few opportunities to gain these skills elsewhere.
The FCJ Refugee Centre, partly as a result of the success of this initiative, received multi-year funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) to support a branch of the program – one that includes youth and service providers from different sectors. The Immigrant and Refugee Youth Mentoring Project drop-in session are ongoing, but it shapes, supports (and of course receives support) from the network expansion developed through the OTF grant.
For further details about FCJ Refugee Centre’s Immigrant and Refugee Youth Mentoring Project including program materials, please visit: http://www.fcjrefugeecentre.org/for-individuals/