Knowledge to the Max – a tutoring and mentoring program for young refugees

Knowledge to the Max (Wiedza do potęgi) is a tutoring and mentoring program of Ocalenie Foundation and the BNP Paribas Foundation. It aims to support the education of refugee youth, primarily those who have learning difficulties and are at risk of falling behind. Participants of the program receive help with studying and are offered workshops, educational and cultural field trips as well as day camps. The organizers are also in constant contact with the families of children participating in the program, providing them with necessary support.

 

Knowledge to the max – beginnings

The program was launched in April 2018. During the first recruitment process 15 young refugees were accepted. They mainly came from Tajikistan and Chechnya, but also from Ukraine and Afghanistan. All participants had been studying in Polish schools for at least a year. Each of the pupils was assigned a tutor. The pupil – tutor pairs met regularly to learn, but sometimes they also spend free time together: taking a walk or having a chat.

 

Program development 

From the launch of the program in 2018 until the end of 2020, 88 refugee children received support in education. Thanks to the stable financial support provided by the BNP Paribas Foundation, the Ocalenie Foundation could focus on developing the program and searching for additional sources of funding. Finding them made it possible to finance more activities for children participating in the program (e.g. organizing holiday trips), as well as to offer similar support to 20 kids from migrant families.

At the beginning of the school year 2020/2021, we supported 75 children. Most of the participants come from Chechnya, Tajikistan and Ukraine, but there are also kids from Syria, Kenya and Iraq.

 

Who are the participants? 

The program is aimed at young people who meet the following criteria: 

  • age 9-19 and enrolled in a school in Warsaw;
  • refugee status or subsidiary protection, humanitarian stay or tolerated stay in Poland; in exceptional situations also persons under the refugee procedure,
  • people who voluntarily want to join the program,
  • people with learning difficulties, especially those with a high risk of dropping out of school,
  • people who don’t work during the school year in a way that would prevent them from learning. 

 

Forms of support

  • Program participants have assigned volunteers – tutors – who provide ongoing support in learning and dealing with school related matters. If needed, they can also get additional support of expert science tutors.
  • Each of the program participants is supervised by the program coordinator, who supports the family, monitors the child’s progress and, if necessary, supports the family in contacts with the school.
  • Each participant may take part in workshops, visits to cultural institutions and sports activities organized as part of the program (at least twice a month).
  • If needed, each participant is provided with psychological or psychotherapeutic support.

 

Scholarship program

Each of the children participating in the program may apply for a scholarship for the duration of the school year. It covers the student’s educational needs and school fees (parents’ council fees, insurance, lunches, excursions and textbooks). Since 2018, 22 people have received scholarships. Six of them benefited from the scholarship twice, and one person has been receiving the scholarship for the third year.

In the school year 2020/2021, fourteen kids receive this type of support.

Ocalenie Foundation’s 
Strategic Partner