News & Stories

Diversifying the reach of ONFE’s programs with support from Bilingual Ottawa 

At the Ottawa Network for Education (ONFE), we strive to reach all children and youth in Ottawa, and we believe that francophone K-12 students should have the same access to ONFE’s programs as English-speaking students.  

In July 2021, ONFE received a generous grant of $20,000 from Bilingual Ottawa to support our bilingual activities and our pursuit of new Francophone partnerships that would engage more French-speaking volunteers and educators in our Junior Achievement (JA) Ottawa and Volunteers in Education programs. 

We have strategically used the grant from Bilingual Ottawa to diversify the reach of our programs and further involve underrepresented population segments. Thanks to recent achievements, students are now more comfortable as they can interact with volunteers who speak their first language and, as a result, benefit more from ONFE’s programs.  

Since receiving this contribution, ONFE has also established new partnerships with 13 organizations, including Education éveillée, Ottawa Employment Hub, La cité, Centre des services communautaires Vanier, La Fédération de la jeunesse franco-ontarienne (FESFO), Regroupement des gens d’affaires (RGA), Assemblé de la francophonie de l’Ontario, Patro d’Ottawa, épelle-moi Canada, Centre de l’identité et de la culture Africaines, L’avenir jeunesse, The Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth, and Families, and Carleton University Librarians.  

How we did it

Social media & other promotions 

Using social media ads on Facebook, ONFE was able to attract more volunteer talent with shared interests in our programs. A volunteer recruitment campaign on social media for our Volunteers-in-Education (VIE) program called for both French and English female volunteers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers, with an aim to inspire female students to consider STEM careers through representation and mentoring opportunities with women in those fields. 

Additionally, by promoting and facilitating virtual volunteer placements, our Volunteers in Education program generated 13 French-language tutoring placements, while our JA Ottawa program delivered 20 “Économie pour le succès” financial literacy and career preparation programs in French and three JA company entrepreneurial programs.  

Inuit Cultural workshops 

ONFE is focused on promoting cohesions and inclusion with First Nation, Metis, and Inuit populations in Ottawa. In partnership with the  Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth, and Families, ONFE has provided learning opportunities for volunteers who will mentor and provide life skills workshops for Inuit Youth. This was done via cultural workshops that discussed Inuit history and the intergenerational impacts of colonization. Topics also covered the eras of explorers, government, and the political movement.  

Below is a testimonial from an attendee of our workshop: 

“I really enjoyed this presentation. Informative especially with all the personal anecdotes from Stranger (one of the presenters). I live remarkably close to the Inuit facility at Richmond and Carling, and I will view the residents I see with greater clarity and understanding. I will especially make sure to go slowly when I drive by! Thank you for the opportunity to have participated in this workshop.”  

Hopes and goals for the future 

We hope to see greater cohesion, dialogue, and collaboration among anglophone and francophone organizations. The greatest impact can be achieved through program delivery to Francophone youth. Organizations like JA Northern and Eastern Ontario and virtual French programs increase our student reach and promote collaboration. Discussions are underway to offer French Company summer camp to youth members of the Centre de l’identité et de la culture Africaines as early as July. JA will be offering workshops in French to 68 participants in the L’avenir jeunesse program later in April. We are hopeful that follow-up conversations with new partners will result in additional program deliveries. 

By promoting and facilitating successful ONFE volunteer opportunities, we hope that francophones will be motivated to join our network to help Ottawa students. Students already in French classes and French immersion programs within the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) will benefit from working with Francophone volunteers and will further develop the connection between anglophone and francophone Ottawa communities.  

Finally, our Volunteers in Education program staff plan to offer more diversity, equity, and inclusion training courses to volunteers in both French and English to promote inclusion more broadly.  

ONFE has recognized the government of Canada, the Bilingual Ottawa program, and ACFO Ottawa on our partnerships page. We are incredibly thankful to these organizations for their gracious support.  

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