This year, Frontier College is the recipient of CTF’s Public Education Advocacy Award, an honour they are thrilled to receive.

“We were just delighted to hear that we won the award and we couldn’t be happier,” says Frontier’s new president and CEO, Stephen Faul. “We’re always thrilled to work with teachers and teacher organizations throughout the country.”

Dating back to 1899, Frontier College is Canada’s oldest literacy organization. It has been offering a variety of programs since 1989 to help people of all ages with their literacy skills. The organization also conducts research on literacy and provides online resources for students, parents, and teachers. Throughout the course of a year, Frontier interacts with an estimated 30,000 in the country.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, in 2014, 48 percent of Canadian adults between 16 and 65 have inadequate literacy skills, which the Board considers to be below Level 3 on the five proficiency level scale. “It is those people,” Faul explains, “that Frontier College is trying to reach.”

According to Faul, the lack of public awareness regarding the critical importance of literacy and about Frontier in terms of addressing literacy needs throughout the country is a major challenge faced by the organization. He explains how, as a bedrock issue, “literacy is connected to employment, unemployment, poverty, criminal justice, civic engagement, [and] healthcare.” As the Conference Board’s research has demonstrated, literacy issues in Canada affect immigrants and Aboriginal People at a higher rate.

Among Frontier’s growing programs are the Indigenous Summer Literacy Camps, which happen throughout the country. The two to three week camps stem and correct summer reading loss, which can occur when a student has limited access to books during the summer break. As demonstrated in the report from last year’s program, feedback for the camps from students, parents, and educators is overwhelming positive, and evaluation results show that once back to school, campers had greater confidence in their abilities and were more ready to learn.

Part of the organization’s success is tied to its community partners across Canada, which totalled 474 in 2016. According to Faul, the recipe for a successful partnership includes mutual respect, working towards the same basic goal, coordinating activities and services so that they are complementary, and collaborating to provide help where people are.

As Faul succinctly states: “At the end of the day, we’re all trying to help people help themselves.”

In the next few years, Frontier College plans to continue working hard for people struggling with literacy; educating the public on the link between literacy and other issues; and connecting with others throughout the country to make an even bigger impact. The organization is always looking for more ways to reach people, as proven by the virtual learning portal they launched a few years ago.

To support the organization, Faul encourages people to learn more about them by visiting their website and following them on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube at @FrontierCollege. There are also opportunities to volunteer and donate to this literacy organization.

Finally, Stephen Faul wishes to express Frontier College’s gratitude and appreciation to teachers and teachers’ organizations across the country:

“Teachers are doing this work, day in and day out. We’re helping, but we know teachers are doing an incredibly good work. I want to make sure to thank them for recognizing us because it means a lot to us that experts out there have a positive view of our work.”