Generous donation expands unique TVDSB-Western partnership

A $5 million donation from The Joyce Foundation will double the size of the successful School Within a University (SWAU) program – the first of its kind in Canada.

The generous donation to Western University will establish an endowment to fund annual entrance awards for students graduating from SWAU who attend Western University and affiliate colleges. The grant also provides $500,000 to support the expansion of the program for as many as 50 students and the hiring of a second teacher over the next four years.

SWAU – a partnership between the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) and Western University – is offered to students experiencing exceptional change or challenges in life, who are at risk of not completing their Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). The SWAU classroom is located on campus at Western, where students complete their OSSD requirements, as well as take one university class for free.

There are currently 25 students enrolled in the program and 21 of them have applied to college or university. Student Ela Bak says that the program has put her back on track to achieve success at university.

“The SWAU program has changed my life for the better. It’s given me a sense of self-belief and it has given me the idea that just because you’ve gone through certain things doesn’t mean you’re not smart; it doesn’t mean you can’t achieve things in life. You can,” Bak says in a segment of the television program “Western Revealed”, which airs on Rogers TV: http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=9&gid=230927

Applications for the 2015-2016 school year are being accepted until May 4 from students 17–20 years of age who require up to six secondary school courses to complete their OSSD. The students accepted into the program may choose from among a wide variety of courses, at secondary and post-secondary levels.

Tom Smith, TVDSB Dual Credit Coordinator, says the SWAU program is a testament to the Board’s mission to build each student’s tomorrow, every day. “SWAU helps students who are at risk of not completing their secondary education to earn their OSSD as well as gain the confidence to go on to post-secondary education.”

For more information, go to: www.tvdsb.ca/Destinations.cfm?subpage=221063.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rob Bell, SWAU Teacher
Thames Valley Alternative Secondary School, 70 Jacqueline Street, London N5Z 3P7, 519-619-9486 r.bell@tvdsb.on.ca, or Stephen Ledgley, Senior Media Relations Officer, Communications and Public Affairs, Western University, Westminster Hall, London N6A 3K7, 519-661-2111 ext. 85283 sledgley@uwo.ca