For some students, not having a ride to school can mean the difference between earning the credits they need to graduate or not returning to school at all.
Royal West Campus houses a community confronted with this challenge virtually every day. The campus is home to adult learners of a variety of ages and an even greater variety of lived experiences. Staff found a correlation between transportation, academic success, and overall well-being, and that led to an application to the Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation (SPSF) funding to purchase multi-use bus passes for students as part of the campus' Education Every Day project.
"Because of our designation as an adult campus many of our students attend our school from all over the city, which means that transportation can and often times does become an issue," said Megan Bachiu, the campus' student advocate "At the beginning of the 2018-19 school year, we were only able to provide students with a bus pass once a week. With the assistance of SPSF we were been able to provide those students who need access to transportation with a multi-use pass every day, if necessary."
For Royal West students Nick and Brooke, the bus passes funded by the foundation's $2,500 Programs of Excellence contribution made a significant difference.
There were many months when Nick, who lives across the city from the Witney Avenue North campus, was unable to attend school. However, with the ability to access transportation he became a regular fixture in the classroom and was able to complete the Adult 12 program. He was also the recipient of Path to Success Award, which recognizes a student who has overcome barriers and grown both emotionally and academically. When Brooke, Nick's partner, was pregnant with the couple's child she did not have anyone who could help her to get to school. Brook acknowledged that if it had not been for the multi-use bus passes, she would have likely dropped out of school prior to giving birth.
The funding by the SPSF during the 2018-19 school year to provide for access to transportation helped more than 60 of Royal West's most vulnerable students to attend school more frequently.
Nathan, a student working through his Adult 12, was another beneficiary of the foundation's support. Having the means to get to and from school alleviated a major barrier to his success as a student and allowed him to accumulate credits throughout the year. As a result, Nathan is in a position to achieve Adult 12 program graduation in the fall of 2019.
The success experienced by Royal West's students is a result of their commitment to learning, but the support of SPSF has put them in a position to achieve their Adult 12 in a timelier manner.
"In terms of credit attainment and completion of the students' Adult 12, I believe that having access to transportation without barriers has been critical to the success of several of our students," said Kirk Gordon, the campus' student ally. "The people who attend our campus are some of the most under-served students in the city. For example, we still have many students who will be the first in their family to attain their high school diploma."
"By helping the Royal West community get to school the foundation is a catalyst in making the goal of closing the educational gap between First Nations, Inuit and Métis (FNIM) and non-FNIM students a reality," Gordon added. "More important than any data we can collect and highlight, our students have expressed that this school is a place where they believe success is possible. Through the foundation's support and assistance in getting them here regularly, the SPSF has become a partner in their empowerment."