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Andrew Petter, President and Vice-Chancellor

Petter's Perspective: Notes from the President

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“Friends of Simon” walks the community engagement talk

December 08, 2011

SFU’s emerging vision is that of an engaged university, committed to harnessing all of its capacities to enhance the well-being of the communities it serves.

The Friends of Simon tutoring project is already delivering on this commitment. Now in its sixth year of service in Burnaby, Coquitlam, and Surrey, this Faculty of Education outreach project delivers literacy and settlement support to newcomers between the ages of 8 and 12.

I recently met with some of the people who help deliver this unique program–recipient of this year’s United Way of the Lower Mainland’s community spirit award.

University students, many of whom themselves are recent immigrants or first-generation Canadians, are trained as literacy tutors; the pay they receive helps defray the costs of their own education. But the benefits they provide to the children they tutor, and the experience and sense of gratification they gain in the process, is priceless.

The Friends of Simon project is supported by the United Way of the Lower Mainland, the North Growth Foundation and Welcome BC.  And this fall, Rogers Communication provided a grant for a parallel three-year project to serve newcomer students in the 12-to-15 age group, with more emphasis on academic achievement.

Thanks to all those who have made this fabulous program possible–and for partnering with SFU to show how an engaged univesity can help build a better future for our local communities.

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