The work of the Community Development and Outreach Department (CDO) is an important way that Capilano University reaches out to those not served by campus based programs; those who are often socially excluded in many parts of our community.

Jo Anthony, left, communicates with CapU student Alecia Ferreira using a tablet device designed to facilitate verbal communication among people with aphasia at the North Shore Neighbourhood House on Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019. As part of the Unified Grant program, Capilano University students are providing augmentative communication support to North Shore stroke survivors.
A Capilano University student providing augmentative communication support to North Shore stroke survivors.

Over the years we have developed expertise in our approach and are viewed as leaders in creating meaningful social change through educational access.

CDO learners are newcomers to Canada, low-income residents, parents, seniors, workers in entry level jobs, Indigenous people both on-reserve and off-reserve and people looking to make a positive change in their lives. CDO learners live in communities across our catchment area in urban areas, inner cities, small towns, and remote villages.

We support learning through upgrading opportunities, language development, student success strategies, community leadership and volunteerism.

How we reach learners

We are successful in reaching such a diverse group of learners because we:

  • engage learners as partners in the learning process
  • build partnerships with communities to provide a continuum of learner supports
  • adopt a learner-centred approach to the development of literacy and essential skills
  • provide learning opportunities where learners naturally gather - in community centres, Neighbourhood Houses and Friendship Centres, in workplaces, in health centres, and in local libraries
  • build on learner and community creativity by providing unique, interesting and meaningful learning opportunities linked to real life issues

We create a ladder for vulnerable learners to take meaningful steps toward other programs at Capilano University or other post-secondary institutions.

How learners access our programs

Learners access our programs across the regions served by the University:

  • throughout the North Shore community;
  • in the communities of our region: Sechelt, Squamish, Whistler and the Pemberton Valley, including five rural and remote Indigenous communities; and
  • in Vancouver's inner city.

North Shore programs and projects

Since 2007

Partners: North Shore Neighbourhood House

Funder: Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training through the Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP)

The Lower Lonsdale Literacy Program is a community-based, volunteer tutor program that provides one-to-one and/or small group instruction to adults living or accessing services in the Lower Lonsdale area. Our learners include adults with multiple learning needs, including English Language Learners. Tutoring may involve reading, writing, math, digital literacy, and special interest topics. Learners and tutors may meet onsite at our Lower Lonsdale location at Cap U&'s Shipyards facility or in libraries, cafes, and other community spaces.

More information: literacy@capilanou.ca

Phone: 604 986 1911 Ext: 3174

Follow us: instagram.com/northshoreliteracy

Since 2011

Partners: St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, Queen Mary Elementary School, North Vancouver City Library, Impact North Shore, and North Shore Neighbourhood House

Funders: Community Grants, City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver, and Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training through the Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP)

This intergenerational program in North Vancouver delivers learner-centered adult and family literacy programming to the parents, grandparents, and care givers of school-aged children. We provide opportunities to improve literacy skills while learning how to be more involved in their community, to support their children's learning, and to improve their ability to access services. An important aspect of the program is developing a sense of community and belonging amongst the participants and dedicated community volunteers.

More information: qmflp@capilanou.ca

Phone: 604 986 1911 Ext: 3174

Since 2007

Partners: North Shore Neighbourhood House. Impact North Shore. West Vancouver Memorial Library. North Vancouver City Library. North Vancouver District Library. Ts'leil-Waututh Nation. Squamish Nation. Eslha7an Education and Training Centre. City of North Vancouver. District of West Vancouver. Vancouver Coastal Health. Hollyburn Family Services. North Shore Community Resources. St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church. North Shore Disabilities Resource Centre.

Funder: Decoda Literacy Solutions

As the steward of this funding, Capilano University hires a Literacy Outreach Coordinator (LOC) to partner and work with community partners "to meet a vision of a fully literate North Shore with accessible learning opportunities for all." A Community Literacy Plan guides the activities of the LOC and community partners and collaborators. This group has been involved in developing literacy programs including adult and family literacy programs throughout the North Shore, undertaken initiatives in Indigenous literacy curriculum development, and has been active in public events and training initiatives to raise awareness around literacy issues.

More information: literacy@capilanou.ca

Phone: 604 986 1911 Ext: 3174

Since 2015

Partner: Squamish Nation (Education and Training)

The Eslha7áń Learning Centre offers education and training to members of the Squamish (Sḵwx̱wú7mesh) Nation and other Indigenous people living in the Greater Vancouver area. In 2015, Capilano University partnered with the Squamish Nation to offer the Chan Es'ewats program at Eslha7an, which continues to offer fundamental literacy, math, and computer skills.

In 2021, Capilano University extended its programming to include Intermediate, Advanced and Provincial level ABE courses. Indigenous students can get specific credits needed or can complete a full Adult Graduation Diploma in a supportive, on-reserve, community-based program that also offers Squamish Nation culture, language and important wrap around services including counselling, elder support, a meal program, transportation, and some financial incentives.

USS 100 – Introduction to University Success Strategies

This course has two versions: USS 100 and USS 100 (Indigenous). Both are highly interactive and teach skills essential to successful university life, including time-management, goal setting, note taking, self-care, study skills, reading strategies, test-taking, teamwork, and presentation skills. USS 100 (Indigenous) is taught through an Indigenous lens, weaving Indigenous knowledge, skills, and stories into the academic skills. The course is delivered both face-to-face in class, and online synchronous.

USSD 105 – University Success Strategies: Reading and Study Skills

This highly interactive course teaches skills essential to a successful university experience, with a special focus on reading skills, thinking strategies and working in teams. The reading component includes textbook comprehension and retention, vocabulary development, study skills and critical thinking. Students also learn time-management, goal setting, note taking, memory techniques, test-taking and presentation skills.

Sea-to-Sky / Sunshine Coast programs

(2007) – Funded through the Base as Regional Literacy Coordination for many years before this.

Partners: Xa'xtsa (Douglas) First Nation, Skatin FN, Samahquam FN, Ts'Zil Learning Centre (Mt Currie), Xit'olowc Community School (Mt. Currie), In'SHICK'ch FN, Pemberton Public Library, Whistler Public Library, Sea to Sky Community Services Society, School District 48, Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, Hotspot Community Access Centre (also known as the Squamish Volunteer Centre Society), North Shore Multicultural Society, the Chief Newspaper, Squamish Public Library, Vancouver Coastal Health, the District of Squamish, Squamish Nation, Lil'Wat Nation, Squamish Senior's Centre, Whistler Community Services, Training Innovations, Howe Sound Women's Centre, Resort Municipality of Whistler, Big Brothers Big Sisters

Funder: Decoda Literacy Solutions

In the Howe Sound region, the Literacy Outreach Coordinator (LOC) focuses on the literacy needs in Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and the Mount Currie area, which includes one isolated and three extremely isolated Indigenous communities.

Working under the name Dream Makers Community Literacy Coalition, three local literacy committees work with community partners to assess literacy needs and create action plans for the communities of the Sea to Sky Southern Stl'atl'imx Region.

This initiative has resulted in the development of a vibrant literacy presence in the corridor, including such initiatives as the Squamish Welcome Centre and Welcome Sea to Sky, IRCC funded programs, the Squamish Faces Family Learning program and a range of initiatives undertaken by community partners without a direct Capilano University partnership.

Dream Makers also hosts an annual training/literacy awareness event that has brought in such training as Parents as Literacy Supports (PALS, including Immigrant and Aboriginal PALS), financial literacy, 100 Years of Loss and much more.

(2007) Funded through the Base as Regional Literacy Coordination for many years before this.

Partners: School District No. 46 (Sunshine Coast), Sunshine Coast Credit Union, Gibsons and District Public Library, Sechelt Public Library, Pender Harbour Community School, Festival of the Written Arts, Community Members and Private Citizens, Halfmoon Bay-Chatelech Community School

Funder: Decoda Literacy Solutions

On the Sunshine Coast a Literacy Outreach Coordinator works with the Literacy Coalition and community partners to meet community literacy needs in the communities along the Sunshine Coast, from Gibsons to Pender Harbour. Activities include raising public awareness, supporting vulnerable learners through a range of projects, and collaborating with aboriginal communities to address the needs of aboriginal learners. Sample projects include literacy and food security, digital storytelling, Human Library, free musical concerts on Family Literacy Day, Drag Queen Storytelling event; events that will engage all members of our growing community.

Since 2007

Partner: Squamish Welcome Centre aka Squamish Volunteer Centre Society

Funders: Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training through the Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP), Raise a Reader Fund

The Squamish Community Adult Learning Program is an adult literacy program run by volunteer tutors, trained and monitored by Capilano faculty. It is a community-based program that uses a learner-centered approach to create accessible literacy opportunities for adults living in Squamish. Tutors participate in a comprehensive training program and receive ongoing support from the program.

Learners work with volunteer tutors on a one-to-one basis or in small groups. One-to-one tutors meet with learners who are unable to participate in group sessions and learning takes place often at the Squamish Welcome Centre, and other community spaces such as Squamish Public Library. The program supports immigrants, naturalized citizens, temporary foreign workers, Canadian ESL speakers, and low literacy learners.

More information: squamishesl@capilanou.ca

Since 2003

Partners: Communities that Care Squamish (a consortium of local community organizations), School District 48/Squamish Elementary School, Sea to Sky Community Services, Whistler Public Library

Funders: Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training through the Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP), Raise a Reader Fund, Putting Children First Initiative

The Squamish and Whistler Faces Family Learning Program provides adult literacy and parent education to adult family members in the communities of Squamish and Whistler.

The program helps parents and caregivers meet their personal learning goals and become more active and confident in their roles as parents, community members and individuals. Key to our success is developing a welcoming and supportive learning group.

In the Squamish Program, direct adult instruction is offered through classroom based activities once a week during the day.

In the Whistler Program, weekly group sessions help participants develop literacy skills that build family capacity and transferable skills tied to each learner's goals. Other activities, such as field trips, enhance the classroom sessions. Transportation, food and other supports are included.

Since 2007

Partners: Samahquam Band, Skatin Band, Xa'xtsa Band, N'Quatqua Band, Southern Stl'atl'imx Health Society

Funders: Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training through the Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP), Southern Stl'atl'imx Health Society

This project provides adult literacy services in one isolated community and three extremely isolated Indigenous communities beyond Lil'wat (Mount Currie) – N'Quatqua, Samahquam, Skatin, and Xa'xtsa – and supports learners' to access those services.

These four communities have identified a great need for ongoing adult learning and have worked with Capilano University since 2004 to develop an education model that supports the unique needs of the small isolated villages.

The model provides students with support to raise their literacy levels in their community, while also traveling to other communities within their territory.

Support for the students' learning includes travel, food, a literacy instructor and supplies/materials, creating a "satellite" learning centre.

The outcomes of the program include a successful community-university partnership responsive to local needs and a supportive educational environment for adult literacy learners' in extremely isolated communities.

Since 2014

Partner: Whistler Public Library

Funder: Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training through the Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP)

This is an adult literacy program that provides literacy support to ESL and low literacy adult learners living and working in the communities of Whistler and Pemberton.

An ESL group session supports English as a Second Language (ESL) learners who are ineligible for support for their learning objectives through other programs (for example, by immigration status, or by skills level) and for learners assessed at Community Adult Literacy Benchmark (CALB) level 3 and upwards.

Group ESL takes place online. One-to-one tutors meet with learners who are unable to participate in group sessions and learning takes place often online or in other public spaces such as outdoors or coffee shops with appropriate physical distancing as both tutor and learner are comfortable.

The program supports immigrants, naturalized citizens, temporary foreign workers, Canadian ESL speakers, and low literacy learners. Decreases in funding in previous years mean the program has been unable to provide support to the many seasonal, international workers in Whistler. Tutor recruitment to increase the number of potential matches is planned again for 2022-23 – as limits to our ability to gather, move back to normal.

Since 1993

Partners: Sechelt Public Library, Gibsons and District Public Library, Welcoming Communities

Funder: Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training through the Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP)

CALL offers one-on-one and small group learning options for adults with low literacy in reading, writing, and oral communication. Learning takes place at kalax-ay, the Sunshine Coast campus of Capilano University in Sechelt and at the Gibsons and District Public Library, as well as other community spaces. Students are matched one-on-one with a volunteer tutor from the community. Tutors participate in a comprehensive training program and receive ongoing support from the program.

The focus of the small groups offered every year varies depending on needs and can include English conversation circles for adults who have English as a second language, beginner computer skills, writing skills, and assistance in preparing to get a driver's license, among other topics and book clubs at various levels. The program has an extensive lending library full of learning materials for tutors and learners alike.

Since 2014 However, was previously funded solely by the province through the ESLSAP and Welcome Communities initiatives from 2007.

Partners: Hotspot Community Resource Centre aka Squamish Volunteer Centre Society, Whistler Multicultural Society, Whistler Public Library

Funders: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), BC Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills (BC Settlement & Integration Services; BCSIS)

Settlement services, including Needs Assessments Assets and Referrals, Information and Orientation, and Community Connections, are provided to IRCC- qualified immigrants: permanent residents of Canada, refugees, and caregivers. Top-up funding from BCSIS allows non-qualifying individuals (naturalized Canadians and Temporary Foreign Workers) to be supported alongside many IRCC activities. We have received additional funding from IRCC to work alongside employers to support immigrants in the workplace and to develop employer strategies for success working with diverse workers. Also now funded is a bi-annual pan-regional entrepreneur support/development program and delivery of the Resilient Workers curriculum.

IRCC funding component:

  • Supports the provision of settlement and community connections activities and services. Partner organizations employ settlement workers and outreach workers (OWs in place via the SMART Fund) to support delivery of these services. CapU faculty deliver language and other skills training, and provide program management to project staff.
  • Objectives are to connect with IRCC eligible clients through schools, faith groups, workplaces, local governments, health and other community organizations; to develop social supports within, and bridges to, the local community to encourage and facilitate increased understanding, ability and willingness to participate fully in the local and wider Canadian cultural and community. Mentors/volunteer tutors are a key part of this program.

BCSIS funding component:

  • Supports the social and economic integration of newcomers to the province who are not eligible for federal settlement services, specifically, temporary foreign workers, provincial nominees who are awaiting their permanent residency approval, post-secondary international students, refugee claimants, and naturalized citizens.
  • Objectives are to assist BCSIS-eligible clients to navigate immigration processes, meet settlement needs, connect to the community, access labour market information and supports, and upgrade their English language proficiency. Partnerships and roles are implemented as for IRCC. Subcontractors for formal language training across the region (LINC) and in Powell River are subcontracted to deliver services and target outcomes as agreed by CapU with BCSIS.

Communities supported: Sechelt, Gibsons, Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton – with Powell River for BCSIS.

Since 2011

Partners: Whistler Multicultural Society (sponsoring agency), Hotspot Community Resource Centre aka Squamish Volunteer Centre Society

Funder: Vancouver Coastal Health, Smart Fund

In the communities of Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton, the program aims to engage newcomers and immigrants as full participants in their communities by providing leadership, cultural, and mentorship training.

Immigrants and newcomers will have the capacity to be full participants in their community, to advocate for their own needs, and to contribute to the well-being of others. Immigrant advisory boards in each community guide the project.

Advocacy and leadership skills are developed within the immigrant communities via skills and communication training, and practical project development and implementation. Outreach Workers, employed by partner organizations, support the project.

Key activities are: information and cultural sharing within the immigrant communities, leadership and life skills training, volunteer development, Peer Educator Program providing immigrants with the skills and knowledge to support and provide information and referrals to other newcomers, cross-community agency networking.

Vancouver Inner City Region programs

CDO's Vancouver Inner City Region Programs take place on the unceded, ancestral lands of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations.

Since 1997

Partner: Carnegie Community Centre

The Carnegie Learning Centre is on the third floor of the Carnegie Community Centre, in the heart of the Downtown Eastside (DTES) of Vancouver. The mandate of the Carnegie Learning Centre is to provide educational opportunities to the DTES community, and to create strong connections and partnerships in the community. Our goal is to offer learning opportunities that are supportive, respectful, and inclusive to meet the diverse needs of our learners. We train and support volunteers from outside and within the DTES community, to become receptionists, and one-to-one tutors. Working one-to-one and in small groups, volunteer tutors and instructors teach math, English, EAL (English as an Additional Language), digital literacy, art, and creative activities.

Partnerships have allowed for the delivery of the following programs: Día de Muertos celebrations, Indigenous Legal Forms, Philosophers' Café, Fire Writers Creative Writing, DTES Writers Collective and DTES Small Arts Grants. The Learning Centre has been an important resource to the DTES community for the last 40 years.

Since 1997

Partners: Carnegie Community Centre, WISH Drop-In Centre, Vancouver Public Library (Carnegie branch)

Funder: Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training through Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP)

The Literacy In reach/Outreach program provides literacy support in partnership with Carnegie Cultural Sharing, Arts, Seniors and Volunteer Programs, Oppenheimer Park and the WISH Drop-In Centre Society. The In-reach Program takes on projects identified in collaboration with Carnegie programs including digital story making, workplace soft skills training, Language Learning through Drama, and supporting residents in their campaigns to deal with inadequate housing, poverty, and discrimination. Two important publications are Invisible Heroes: Aboriginal Stories from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside and Listen to Our Voices: Stories from the Carnegie Learning Centre 1983—2018. Digital literacy is a huge barrier for people in the Downtown Eastside and at least half of our work is assisting people to access government forms, documents, and other critical information.

The Outreach Program also provides outreach literacy services to re-engage isolated and multi-barriered literacy learners at Oppenheimer Park and the WISH Drop-In Centre. The program at Oppenheimer Park works primarily with the homeless community and residents living in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) hotels and rooming houses to deliver important information about community, human rights, and health information.

The success of the Carnegie Literacy In reach/Outreach Program has been the result of strong partnerships and a commitment to delivering innovative literacy curriculum throughout the Carnegie Centre and the neighbourhood. Our partnership with the WISH Drop-In Centre Society has spanned more than 20 years. The WISH Learning Centre supports women who work in Vancouver's street-based sex trade, offering literacy, upgrading and a range of activities designed to help them self-advocate and stabilize their lives. The WISH Drop-In Centre Society helps to fund the work of the WISH Learning Centre. Women access support around applying for Downtown Eastside Small Arts Grants, upgrading support, referrals for work, stress-relief through literacy and art activities, and a place where friendly resources can be accessed.

Since 2003

Partners: Strathcona Community Centre and Vancouver Public Library (Strathcona branch)

Funders: Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training through the Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP), Raise a Reader Fund

In the Strathcona program, non-English speaking students are provided with basic language skills in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere with classes taught in the learners' community. Skills include grammar, listening, speaking, pronunciation, reading, vocabulary building and writing. The focus is on meaningful communication, and, through pair and small group activities, learners are encouraged to be active participants and decision-makers. Students are provided broader opportunities such as information to local events, and this may include class outings in the community. Although the classroom is multi-level (low beginner to low intermediate) and learners' individual needs are taken into consideration, it is usually an instructor-led rather than self-paced classroom.

This course prepares students for ESL courses above the beginner level.

Since 2005

Partners: Kiwassa Neighbourhood House, Hastings Community Centre, Vancouver Public Library (Hastings Branch)

Funders: Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training through the Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP), Raise a Reader Fund

East Vancouver Family Literacy Program provides parents and caregivers with upgrading opportunities, skills to support their children’s learning and connections with other parents. Over the years, it has expanded to several sites: Hastings Community School, A.R. Lord, Tillicum Annex and Templeton High School.

Currently it operates out of Kiwassa Neighbourhood House and Hastings Community Centre. Outcomes include increased participation by parents in school activities, a forum for isolated parents to ask questions about current issues, and increased participation by parents in community issues and volunteerism. Classes went online in 2020 and learners were supported to increase their digital literacy skills. The learners enjoyed using Zoom and became very comfortable using the distinctive features. Many began attending online workshops being held once a week in Cantonese.

The learners in these classes have built a strong community, and the online classes, allowed them to continue this community despite being unable to meet in person. They were all committed to improving their English skills and learning more about Canadian culture during the pandemic.

The classes provide critical points of connection and information.

Since 2001

Partners: Horsemen's Protective and Benevolent Assoc. of BC, Hastings Entertainment Inc. / Great Canadian Casinos

Funders: Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training through the Community Adult Literacy Program (CALP), Hastings Entertainment Inc.

This Learning Centre has offered instructor-led and peer to peer learning opportunities for workers in the backstretch community of the Hastings Racecourse since 2001. As many as 75 people live on site and another 400 regularly work seven days a week, 4:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the barn area.

The Learning Centre program offers core instruction in basic literacy, writing, English as an Additional Language, and digital learning with access to computer resources for learners who wish to advance their employment possibilities or pursue interests through upgrading their education. The program also assists learners' interface with government services by assisting them to file taxes, applying for birth certificates and other government documents.

The program is coordinated by instructors from Capilano University and peer tutors from the backstretch. Our learners represent the diversity of the workers in the backstretch. Some are born and educated in western Canada with incomplete original educations.

Many are foreign workers who want to learn English, and work as grooms, gallopers, and jockeys in the backstretch.

Credential programs

This program is a 2-course citation program designed to provide an accredited educational opportunity for learners in communities in a way that supports and maintains that community connection. It builds out from our highly successful Everything Present in a Seed curriculum that inspires and clarifies volunteerism in the not-for-profit sector. The two courses that will be offered each year are:

  • Introduction to Community Development, introducing community and ways to build community capacity
  • Foundation Skills in Community Development, focusing on facilitation and problem solving

The citation is offered online. About 50 percent of the students are sponsored by neighbourhood houses and other community organizations as part of their commitment to building community capacity.

The Community Leadership and Social Change (CLSC) Diploma is a 2-year program that offers a curriculum and classroom environment that truly reflects the principles of community development and social justice.

Students build networks, expand resources, and gain the skills they need for rewarding careers in the community and non-profit sector in Canada. The program was designed through the It Takes a Partnership project and is offered in a way that builds on our strong relationships with community partners.

The CLSC is not being offered at this time.


Have questions?

Community Development and Outreach (CDO)

604 986 1911, ext. 3044
Birch Building, room BR345