The Saturday Program was established in 1996 by University of Toronto medical students in partnership with the Office of Student Affairs, Faculty of Medicine, and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB). The pilot program was designed to foster the education of groups traditionally underrepresented in the university system. In particular, Aboriginal, Black, & Portuguese high school students from designated inner city schools were invited to the University on Saturday mornings to receive tutoring from medical students as well as to participate in enrichment activities.
The initial pilot program proved to be a great success and since then the Saturday Program has flourished. It now reflects the need to support students of all cultural backgrounds who have the potential to succeed, but are not yet realizing their academic goals. The number of students participating in the Program has also steadily increased. In 2007-2008, more than eighty students of highly diverse backgrounds took part, and as a result the group enrichment activities have continued to develop to meet the growing diversity, needs and interests of the participants. In 2014-2015 we grew to 150 students and 250 volunteers!
In this year’s program, the enrichment activities will include weekly workshop and career exploration sessions to provide the students with the materials and instructions needed to cultivate their skills in an area of interest, and as a resource for university and/or career related inquiries they may have.
While the bulk of our mentors have traditionally come from the medical school, we have increased our emphasis in more recent years on interdisciplinary cooperation through the recruitment of mentors from additional professional disciplines including Scientific Research, Pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, Engineering, Humanities, and Business.
The goal of the Saturday Program is to build on the strong foundation laid down by others who have participated in previous years, and to continue to adapt to the changing needs of Toronto’s high school students.