They're both interdependent and independent questions. First and foremost, our organization has a tendency to serve a lot of kids who come to us with multiple risk factors. These are kids who are going to be living in poverty and are transient. They may be witnessing family violence or drug and alcohol abuse in the family. As well, we have kids who live in great families. There is an undeniable correlation: those kids who come from families who don't value education are not breaking the cycle of poverty and are not becoming contributing members of society.
One of the things we're doing right now has been around for a long time. In January, we'll be announcing the results of a five-year study that has taken a look at almost 1,000 families who have had Big Brothers and Big Sisters for the last five years and how they've turned out, in effect. One thing that the early findings are showing is that these kids are graduating from high school at a rate of two and a half times their peer groups in Canada. That's the first step to going on to post-secondary education and breaking that cycle.
In terms of looking at aboriginal populations, one of the biggest things we're learning about is whether we are actually prepared to give up the brand of Big Brothers Big Sisters to make effective inroads in working with aboriginal populations. Last fall, we piloted a program in Flying Dust First Nation in northern Saskatchewan. It is a modified in-school mentoring program whereby high school students are matched with elementary school students in school, but the match itself is paired with an elder for a cultural component. One of the things we learned during the process was that the band council we partnered with wants to make sure the high school students get on to post-secondary so that the economic gap starts to be minimized as they're getting good jobs because they have an education.
As well, we found out that the program wouldn't work if we called it Big Brothers Big Sisters, so it actually has a Cree name. For organizations like ours, it's a fundamental rethink and shift in terms of how we're going to approach working not just with aboriginal or first nations communities but also with new Canadians.