Pathways works to ensure young people from low-income and under-represented groups get to school, stay in school, graduate and move on to post-secondary education. Ernst and Young's new relationship with this not-for-profit organization is one of many steps the firm is taking towards improving access to higher education in Canada.
“All opportunity begins with education,” explains Lou Pagnutti, chairman and chief executive officer of Ernst and Young. “This mission is about more than providing funding. We're getting involved and working with students in groups and one on one. We're using our unique skills and talents to teach and mentor these students, and inspire them to see the opportunities education offers them.”
Access to post-secondary education continues to be a real challenge for bright, talented young Canadians.
– While 46% of the wealthiest families attend university, only 20% of those in lowest-income families enter university, and even fewer graduate.
– Those numbers sky rocket in certain cultural groups. For instance, 58% of First Nations people between the ages of 20 and 24 surveyed had not completed a high-school education.
– Another survey showed 40% of students polled did not know how to apply for a student loan and, in some cases, didn't know loans were even available.
Pagnutti says he hopes other companies will follow suit and join Ernst and Young on this mission. “Improving access to post-secondary education isn't just a smart thing to do. It's critical to the success of Canada's future workforce and the economy overall.”
Carolyn Acker, CEO of Pathways to Education Canada, says the partnership is a great opportunity for Ernst & Young and Pathways to use their combined skills to achieve a shared community vision. “Pathways is proud to be aligned with a corporate leader like Ernst and Young. The funding they are providing together with the expertise of their employee volunteers is going to have a real impact on the lives of thousands of young people in many communities.”
Ernst and Young is also pledging support to the Canadian Post-Secondary Access Partnership, a recently announced leadership convening group aimed at improving access to post-secondary education. Ernst and Young is working closely with the group to develop volunteer and mentoring opportunities for all Ernst and Young's people to support the YMCA “You Can Go” program.