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Changing lives, and futures, for youth

Beth Kelly Hatt, founder of Aquila Tours and a member of the Million Dollar Pledge, with Milltown Elementary School student Darius Davidson in the summer of 2019. Darius was one of about 40 students enrolled in a summer program at the school supported by the Pledge, a network of New Brunswick business leaders supporting social causes.

By Dave Veale

It heartens me to share with you the continued success of the Million Dollar Pledge, a network of 14 businesses in the Saint John region each committed to donating $10,000 a year for 10 years to fund socially minded community projects.

Vision Coaching is immensely proud to be one of the founding businesses behind the Million Dollar Pledge. I had the privilege recently of meeting virtually with representatives from the other committed businesses to hear how giving back to our community is improving lives.

While there was encouraging news, it is clear to me that the need to help is still there.

We heard from June Breau-Nason, executive director of the Teen Resource Centre in Saint John, how the centre worked with determination and innovation to keep critical programming running through the pandemic while observing all health guidelines.

The Million Dollar Pledge is a way for like-minded businesses to direct their community support in a collaborative way….

She also shared how investments from the Pledge have helped youth from at-risk neighbourhoods improve their success in school as well as bolster their ambition for employment and post-secondary education.

When you hear that 94 per cent of Grades 11 and 12 students supported by the centre are on track to graduate on time and 90 per cent of Grade 12 students have applied to college and university, you understand how essential the centre’s work is.

The Pledge is a way for like-minded businesses to direct their community support in a collaborative way, drive giving through informed decisions and amplify the impact through a larger network. As a result, other businesses in the greater Saint John region soon signed on.

The Pledge directs its efforts with the assistance of the United Way of Greater Saint John, which advises Pledge members on possible projects and reports on their outcomes. Decision-making on funding projects is based on data and evidence.

Another one of the programs the Pledge supports is a unique summer school that combines fun activities with literacy and numeracy. The school, started as a pilot program at one elementary school in New Brunswick, has quickly expanded to others and kept up its impressive record of maintaining or improving children’s skills in math and reading.

These programs, and the results they are delivering, are possible only with community support. For more information on the Pledge and how you can help, visit the Million Dollar Pledge page on the United Way website.

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