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Case Studies

Pathways to Education – Communication Plan to Support Brand Growth

The Challenge

Pathways to Education began in 2001 as a social innovation within the Regent Park Community Health Centre to break the cycle of poverty.  Pathways was a holistic approach to reducing the high school dropout rate in Regent Park, which at that time was twice the national average.  Fast forward a few years and with the proven success of reducing the dropout rate by over 70% the program was ready to grow and secure more funding.  There was a need for effective positioning and marketing strategies and tactics to build awareness, consideration and choice with key donors.  Pathways had the credentials but lacked staff and marketing expertise to tell its successful story.

Our Solution

We at Spark worked with Pathways on a pro bono basis from its genesis, helping to grow and develop the brand and build effective communications to support fundraising initiatives.  We conducted Pathways’ first advertising agency search and secured a pro bono Agency of Record.  Working closely with the agency, we helped to create the brand foundation and corporate identity, and provided ongoing and day-to-day marketing support and communication strategy development for several years.  We also provided input to the development and launch of Pathways Canada in 2005, which created the platform for replication and rollout of the program across Canada.


This program grew from a pilot project with one location in Toronto to its current structure as a national organization with locations in 12 communities across the country.  In communities where Pathways operates there is a 90% participation rate in the program and 80% of Pathways graduates go on to post secondary education.  By 2016 Pathways estimates it will service over 10,000 students and alumni.