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St. John’s High School Sees Highest Ever Graduation, Post-Secondary Enrollment for Indigenous Students

May 12, 2021

St. John’s High School, located in Winnipeg’s North End, is seeing the highest Indigenous graduation and post-secondary enrollment rates in the school’s 110 year history, thanks in large part to the support of The Schroeder Foundation.

The Foundation supplies post-secondary scholarships, free and subsidized student meals, family meal kits and outreach workers to help ensure students stay in school and reach their full potential. Three years ago, prior to the involvement of The Schroeder Foundation, 16% of St. John’s graduating class pursued a post-secondary education. By 2020, this number had increased to 61%.

“Students now speak openly and often about their desire to seek a post-secondary education. These conversations are changing the culture within our school,” said Douglas Taylor, Principal at St. John’s High School. “Because of the opportunities provided to them by The Schroeder Foundation, students are seeing a way forward – they are daring to dream.”

The Foundation currently provides $655,000 in scholarships and bursaries annually to St. John’s students. It also employs five community outreach staff that work with 80 students and their families. These workers are mindful of the barriers students and their families face, including food insecurity, living wage work scarcities, housing instability, unequal access to preventative healthcare, mental health challenges and the effects of trauma. The workers also deliver 150 meal kits with recipes to the families. The Foundation provides free breakfast for St. John’s students, as well as 75 free lunches – the rest of which are heavily subsidized.

Walter Schroeder, the head of The Schroeder Foundation, grew up in Winnipeg’s Centennial neighbourhood. When visiting St. John’s High School in 2018, he witnessed teachers buying granola bars and apples for hungry students with their own money. It was then that he committed to help reduce food security issues and increase educational opportunities.

“Not all students have the same start in life, but they all deserve the chance to achieve their goals. The Schroeder Foundation is committed to removing barriers for vulnerable students, including those who are making the transition from life on a reserve to an urban high school,” said Schroeder. “Our support is designed to address the complex issues faced by students and their families. The community outreach workers are highly experienced and provide tailored support to help families succeed.”

“The Schroeder Foundation is making a real, tangible difference in our school,” said Principal Taylor. “January 2020 marked the first time St. John’s students in the Provincial Pre-Calculus exams achieved grades in the 90% range, while one Indigenous student achieved 99%. We have more to do, but this is significant.”