Case Study: BCG shows 'Pathways to Education Canada'

Pathways to Education Canada is a charitable foundation Pathways to Education Canada is a charitable foundation created to reduce poverty and its effects by lowering the high school dropout rate among disadvantaged youth in Canada. The Pathways program is designed to help children to stay in school and graduate, thus significantly reducing dropout rates.

The Problem
Pathways launched its initial program in Regent Park in Toronto in 2001. Regent Park is at an economic disadvantage, with a very low average income and very limited prospects for youth. Dropout rates in high school had reached nearly 60 percent (twice the city average). The Boston Consulting Group was asked to assess the social return on investment (SROI) of the program and provide advice on expanding it to other communities.

The Solution

BCG analyzed the short-term educational impact and other results of the program as well as the long-term financial payback to society—the SROI. The drivers to assess the functional chain of the SROI were established through a detailed analysis and the involvement of stakeholders. This included: Analysis of historic program performance involvement of education experts throughout the analysis and assessment; interviews with participants and all involved stakeholders (such as schools, government, and police); and implementation of the latest results of the research.

The Result
What does this significant decrease in dropout rate mean in terms of overall impact on society? Based on the BCG analysis, the study calculated the total payback to society from the Pathways Program is a net present value of about $50,000 per student in the program. Based on that analysis, each charitable dollar invested in Pathways will return $25 in future benefits to society. The Pathways program is being expanded through community partnerships to five new neighborhoods and is scheduled to grow to more than 40 locations and reach more than 20,000 students in the coming years.

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