In 2001, in response to the disproportionate high school dropout rates in Toronto’s Regent Park neighbourhood, a ground-breaking initiative was launched to address the barriers to education faced by students in the community. The Pathways Program was developed after extensive community engagement and provided students in Regent Park with the academic, financial, social, and one-on-one support they needed to graduate from high school. Within five years, Pathways transformed Regent Park’s education landscape, decreasing dropout rates by over 70% and increasing post-secondary attendance by more than 300%. The success of this social innovation led to the formation of Pathways to Education Canada (Pathways) to replicate these phenomenal results across the country. Today, the award-winning Pathways Program is recognized as a true pioneer of social innovation: more than 21,000 students from low-income communities across Canada have received support through the program, and research shows that every $1 invested in the program generates an estimated $24 in social return.
The Pathways Program’s innovative model is proven to promote positive youth development by meeting the diverse needs of youth during the critical years of high school. The program is delivered by Pathways Program Partners, who carry the deep-rooted knowledge, expertise, and credibility in the community to meaningfully engage with young people and identify the priority barriers they face. Working alongside school boards and leveraging a network of volunteers and corporate partners, the Pathways Program helps students to graduate from high school and successfully transition to post-secondary education, training, or employment.
Despite Pathways’ nationwide success, educational gaps in low-income communities persist. Economic inflation and a rapidly shifting job market mean young people must navigate an increasingly complex environment of post-pandemic unpredictability, fears of unemployment, mental health concerns, and food insecurity. Record levels of immigration have also affected youth in the communities Pathways serves, with many newcomer families facing significant barriers to success, including discrimination, social isolation, and a lack of access to health care. These combined challenges have disproportionately affected youth living in low-income communities, resulting in amplified barriers and increased demand for support.
Pathways is uniquely positioned to respond to these challenges. The Board of Directors, alongside the newly appointed President & Chief Executive Officer, have developed an ambitious agenda to increase Pathways’ impact and drive greater social change. Through a thorough needs assessment, the organization is committed to identifying new markets and rethinking its approach to program design and delivery to better serve the evolving needs of both students and communities. To support this bold path forward, Pathways seeks a visionary leader to champion youth needs and lead an evidence-based impact roadmap as its inaugural Chief Impact Officer (CIO).
Innovative, ambitious, and willing to challenge the status quo, the new CIO will be instrumental in shaping the future for youth living in low-income communities across Canada. The CIO will catalyze change by integrating Pathways’ research, evaluation, and programming to ensure the program remains relevant, effective, scalable, and sustainable. Overseeing the research, development, design, management, and evaluation of evidence-based programs and services, the CIO will shape the national discourse around educational equity and position Pathways as the go-to authority in the sector. In so doing, the CIO will raise awareness, generate funding from governments, foundations, and corporations, and develop the capacity for the organization to be a trusted advisor to the government related to policies that reduce educational disparities.
As an exceptional relationship builder, the CIO cultivates strategic partnerships and collaborates with colleagues to secure funding and resources that contribute to program quality and sustainability. The CIO will lead and coach a hybrid team, upholding Pathways’ values, and fostering a culture of empathy, trust, and collaboration.
A collaborative and influential people leader with strong communication skills, the incoming CIO has 10+ years’ progressive leadership experience and an undergraduate degree in a relevant field. They are technologically, research, and data-savvy, with an understanding of best-in-class processes related to product development, design and customer experience. Familiarity with program and/or product management, donor and/or government-funded environments, and experience with the non-profit, social services, youth programming, public health, post-secondary and/or social innovation sector are all valuable assets, as is an understanding of the lived experiences of Pathways communities.
How to Apply
If you are interested in further exploring this exciting opportunity, please provide your resume and a detailed cover letter that highlights your background and connects the dots between your leadership experience and the key competencies outlined in this Profile and lets us know why serving as Pathways’ Chief Impact Officer resonates with you. Please address your cover letter to “Lisa Heidman, LL.B., ICD.D, Founder and CEO, Arlington Partners International and the Pathways Selection Committee” and send your confidential materials directly to Lisa Heidman at [email protected].
Pathways is committed to promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion, providing accessible employment practices in compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, and creating opportunities that empower people to achieve their potential. Pathways strives to attract and retain a diverse workforce where employees are inspired to provide an atmosphere of respect and encouragement for all. Through Pathways’ policies, practices and professional development, Pathways aims to increase awareness and reduce barriers to positively influence the students and communities it proudly serves.
We look forward to exploring your candidacy.