Back in November 2017, we shared some of our updates for The Upstream Project here. We are now back with additional updates, specifically about the project’s pilot phase!

What is The Upstream Project?

Student filling out answers to a test with a pencil - upstream pilot phase

Student filling out answers to a test with a pencil.

For those who are new to our page, The Upstream Project is a partnership between Raising the Roof, participating schools, and partnering community agencies. It is an innovative initiative aimed to prevent, rather than respond to, youth homelessness in Canada.

Using a population-screening tool, the project identifies at-risk youth and connects them to supports that help them remain in school and maintain stable housing. Ultimately, the goal is to:

  • Promote student wellbeing;
  • Reduce youth homelessness;
  • And increase school engagement.

Where did The Upstream Project come from?

The Upstream Project is the first of its kind in Canada; however, the project actually originates from Geelong, Australia. This Australian predecessor, called The Geelong Project, is a groundbreaking early intervention program, which works with schools and community partners to identify youth at high-risk of becoming homeless. For more information on The Geelong Project, check out their website here.

Successes of The Geelong Project

According to ABC news, a report released this past February shows that The Geelong Project achieved the following successes:

  • Almost 50% of the project’s participants were prevented from becoming homeless
  • The rate of youth leaving school early dropped by 20%.

While it is still too early for The Upstream Project to show such promising results, we are very hopeful that we will also generate similar outcomes!

The Pilot Phase

The goal for The Upstream Project’s pilot phase was to survey four schools in two Ontario communities. As of mid-February, we have officially achieved this goal! One elementary school and three high schools from York Region and Niagara Region have participated in the pilot phase.

Early Findings

In total, 2,655 students have participated in the project. Our findings (represented in the pie charts below) show that:

  • 3% of the participants are at risk of homelessness;
  • 3% are at risk of school disengagement AND psychological distress;
  • 18% are at high risk of school disengagement OR psychological distress.

Source: The Upstream Project Pilot (2017-2018). 

Despite these overwhelming numbers, our community partners 360°kids, and The Raft from York Region and Niagara Region, respectively, have continuously shown amazing drive and passion in their work. Support from the school boards have also been invaluable in supporting our community partners connect with the immense number of at-risk youth – an excellent example of collective impact in action!