Friends of Simon

Our Mission

Universities in Canada are associated with teaching and research, but they also have a great capacity for service to their communities. Friends of Simon, an award-winning SFU Faculty of Education initiative, brings together an attitude of inquiry, our instructional knowledge, and our students, in order to provide literacy tutoring for school-aged children and youth.

Friends of Simon recruits, prepares, and assigns university students as literacy tutors in the Lower Mainland, particularly with newcomer K-12 students. With our cooperating sites, Friends of Simon works to increase school success through after-school, Saturday, and summer programs in small group and individualized settings. Instruction is based on current trends in pedagogy and tutors receive their training and supervision from members of the Faculty of Education who themselves are involved in educational research. Friends of Simon is an SFU Faculty of Education outreach project supported by the United Way of the Lower MainlandDavid Mowafaghian Foundation, The Gadhia Family, Porte Industries, Vancouver Foundation, Vancity Credit Union, City of Vancouver, North Growth Foundation, Ted Rogers Scholarship Fund, William and Nona Heaslip Foundation, Employees of Rogers B.C., Dr. Steve Marshall, SFU Surrey-TD Community Engagement Centre (CEC)Heritage Education Funds, and Canadian Scholarship Trust Plan.

Draw Forth All

We ourselves learn as we teach and we redesign Friends of Simon in light of our experience conducting instruction. Our mission is summarized by the phrase, Draw Forth All, which combines the Latin root of the word education ("to draw forth") with the moral commitment of Nobel Laureate and SFU honouree, Bishop Desmond Tutu, specifically his call to serve and honour all people.

Teaching is often seen as the transmission of knowledge, in the manner of filling up empty minds. Education, however, is a process that builds on the prior experience of the learner and evokes new learning through engagement, questioning, and acknowledgment of the individual.

— Paul Shaker, Professor emeritus and Friends of Simon Director.

Porte Communities 

Friends of Simon is so excited to partner with Porte Communities. Over the summer they granted us this gift to enable our program to continue to provide free after-school tutoring to at-risk, vulnerable and newcomer students in Port Moody and at our other sites. Thank you to David Porte and all @portecommunities for your generous support!

Friends Of Simon Field Trip 2019  

FOS aims to enhance the educational expereinces of immigrant and refugee children and youth through after-school tutoring and mentoring sessions.

These interviews are from our annual Field Trip. Listen to some of the stories from our tutors, students, site coordinators, and program coordinators.

Special Thanks to, supporters, funders and partners of Friends of Simon, the social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House, frames Film Program, and Dr. Kris Magnusson.


Covid-19 update: A Message from the Tutors 

Due to Covid-19, Friends of Simon has stopped all in-person tutoring. In order to keep our communities safe,  all tutors are working remotely. 

The Friends of Simon Tutors wanted to send a brief message reminding our students that we are still thinking about them through these challenging times. 

Friends of Simon x Equitas Community Project

For the first time, Friends of Simon collaborated with our long-time partner, Equitas Canada, to create a youth-led Community Action Project. Our tutors worked with students from one of our elementary school sites to discuss children's rights and identify human rights issues in their community. The youth came up with the idea of making COVID-19 Goody Bags to provide relief to families in need who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, such as newcomers and refugees. Read more about the project here:

Read more about the learning process here:

A message from a student:

"I learned about human rights, and learned about people in my group. I enjoyed working on the community action project, if only it was every day of the week. If I could do this whole process over again, I would want to meet everyone in the community room (in person). I feel very happy to do something for my community. I am proud and happy. The main thing I want people to know about our community action project is that we were working together and we learned about human rights."

This opportunity is recognized on the Co-Curricular Record (CCR), an official University document that tracks students’ co-curricular involvement at SFU.
Friends of Simon thanks Tesh Chhachhi from Heritage Education Funds. (photo: Paul Shaker/Tesh Chhachhi)

Our Annual Friends of Simon Evaluation Report (2020/2021) has been released that outlines and highlights the impact FOS has on our community and students. See below for the downloadable PDF.

This past September Friends of Simon Coordinators, Angela Flumerfelt and Kanwal Neel reconnected with former Friends of Simon Tutors at the Outstanding Alumni Awards. @SFUAlumni