Enrol By Six & the Canada Learning Bond

24 September 2015
By Theresa Micallef, Communication Manager, Peel Children and Youth Initiative 
 
In 2011, the Peel Children and Youth Initiative (PCYI) Board of Directors, a collection of leading decision makers in Peel Region’s child and youth-serving sector, endorsed three strategic priorities for PCYI. One of these - the Enrolled By Six: Peel Postsecondary Strategy, aimed to encourage families to establish Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) for their eligible children and to enrol them in the federal government’s complementary Canada Learning Bond (CLB) program. This was seen as a key opportunity to bring organizations together to work on an important, shared, measurable priority, with outcomes that all child and youth serving sectors could align behind.

Part of the challenge of adopting a ‘collective impact’ approach is finding a goal that aligns with, or at least complements, the organizational goals of many partners simultaneously. The beauty of the CLB/ RESP strategy, and the idea of supporting children from low-income families to access postsecondary education, was how well it ‘fit’ with the mandates of so many organizations from different sectors.

Harnessing the collective reach of PCYI’s partner organizations, PCYI set out to engage stakeholders in all sectors to help raise community awareness of RESPs and the CLB. Phase one included awareness-building activities like educating agency partners and conducting media outreach. Phase two included system-changing -- engaging PCYI Board members to help make necessary changes to practices and policies in their respective organizations and systems. Many additional system change activities were undertaken cross-sectorally across the region, contributing to the program’s overall success. 

At the initiative’s inception in 2011, only 31 per cent of eligible children in Peel Region were enrolled in the CLB. Today, this has increased to 40 per cent. This huge gain would not have been possible without the successful collaborative efforts of so many engaged and excited partners. PCYI hopes that the challenges and ultimate successes of the Enrolled By Six: Peel Postsecondary Strategy will help inform the work of others interested in promoting the CLB to families and fostering similar types of collaborative work in their community.

A final report showcasing Peel Region’s strategy is available on our website at: www.pcyi.org/enrolled-by-six.