Our History | Promise Partnership | UNB

Our history

Since 2010, the Promise Partnership has offered academic support to hundreds of youth in the local community and provided UNB Saint John students with meaningful volunteer experiences.

Dedicated to equal educational opportunities for all, the Promise Partnership is not about beating the odds, it’s about changing them.

This video was filmed in December 2019. All Promise Partnership programming has been delivered virtually since March 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Ten years of growth

The Backyard Book Club (a student-led summer literacy program in Crescent Valley) begins with 18 UNB Saint John student volunteers and up to 25 local youth each night.


A formal Poverty Reduction Initiative begins at UNB Saint John under the leadership of then Vice-President Saint John, Dr. Robert MacKinnon.

What would become known as the Promise Partnership, begins with the launch of the Student Mentoring Program and the Book’n It Tutoring program for youth in Crescent Valley.

The Backyard Book Club is delivered on the Saint John campus of UNB.

Emera announces financial support for first group of Book’n It Tutoring students planning to attend UNB Saint John in 2014.

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall (Camilla Parker Bowles) visit Hazen White-St. Francis (HWSF) Promise Partnership program.


Delegation from UNB Saint John and Hazen White-St. Francis (HWSF) school travel to New York to visit the Harlem Children’s Zone to learn more about community engagement programming.

UNB Promise Partnership’s first literacy coach is hired to enhance literacy skill development at HWSF.

Campus Discovery Nights Summer Program is launched with a focus on keeping middle school students engaged throughout the summer with exposure to hands-on science-based learning opportunities.

A community-based evaluator was hired to conduct research to inform new programming as well as conduct regular program evaluation to ensure programs were meeting desired goals.

The Saint John Community Foundation provides funding for books to be used for literacy programming.

iPad technology is established in the HWSF mentoring room, allowing for unique programs such as Raz-Kids to be utilized during mentoring sessions.

Partnership is established with the Nature Trust of New Brunswick to launch a summer program focusing on green initiatives.


The UNB Associated Alumni provide funding to renovate a “mentor room” at Hazen White-St. Francis (HWSF) school for Promise Partnership activities.

Book’n It Tutoring expands to another priority neighbourhood – the Old North End. Promise Partnership also begins to offer tutoring services to Lorne grade 9 students.


Promise Partnership is awarded the Big Heart Award at the 2013 Outstanding Business Awards (OBA).

Research begins on a SSHRC funded project in collaboration with Vibrant Communities Saint John and Carleton University. Results are presented to a variety of audiences.


First ever Book’n It Tutoring high school graduating class.

Bonding with Books Program summer program is piloted. This program assisted parents in learning the core traits of literacy to better help their children.

The Backyard Book Club is recognized by the Governor General for its efforts to support literacy. The Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick visits the summer program.


Transition to High School program is offered to Lorne Grade 9 students with coordinators and volunteers working at Lorne Middle School.


UNB Promise Partnership conducts research on the five priority neighbourhoods in Saint John. The project is entitled: Without Geography You’re No One. The Role of Geography in Shaping Identities and perceptions of Residents in Saint John, New Brunswick.

Emera NB contributes additional funds to support students in the Promise Partnership Tutoring Program who are planning to attend UNB Saint John.

Potash Corporation provides funding to support Promise Partnership program activities.


The Conversation Café is created to help newcomer parents learn English.

The Pre-School Readiness Program is piloted over the summer months.

Math “Boot Camp” is offered over the summer to grade 8 students preparing to start high school.

Members of the Promise Partnership travel to Seattle University to facilitate a session at the annual Place-Based Institute.

A community engagement manual is created in partnership with Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour (PETL).

The Promise Partnership programs support Syrian students attending local schools. The program features ESL-focused support for those students who required additional English as a second language practice.


Faces of Fusion Award

The Promise Partnership mentoring staff win the Faces of Fusion Award.

The University 1005 course is launched by Dr. Joanna Everitt. Enrolled students learn about the social, economic and political challenges facing those living in poverty and the role education can play in alleviating these challenges. The hands-on component of this course is facilitated by the Promise Partnership.

The Tousoutti Foundation provides support for Promise Partnership programming.

A Math Intervention Program is offered to a small group of high school students interesting in advancing their math skills.


The Promise Partnership pilots a Lunch and Learn program in collaboration with UNB Saint John Nursing students. This is delivered at Hazen White-St. Francis school (HWSF) and focuses on Canada’s Food Guide.

A guest children’s author is invited to HWSF in partnership with the UNB Lorenzo Society.

University 1005 adds an after-school club component to its service-learning curriculum.


Celebrating 10 years of the Promise Partnership mentoring and tutoring programs.

Tree planting ceremony held outside of Hazen White-St. Francis (HWSF) school in appreciation of our donors.

Fall programs begin with both mentoring and tutoring programs being delivered virtually due to COVID-19 regulations.



Impactful stories and testimonials

Former HWSF student and Promise Partnership mentor, tutor and program staff

Jen Brown

It’s hard for me to put into words exactly what the Promise Partnership means to me and how much credit I owe this program for my success.

I started my university career in September 2010. I was presented with an incredible opportunity to work with the (at the time unnamed) Promise Partnership as a summer student. Unbeknownst to me, this program was delivering academic programming to the community I grew up in and the school I attended.

I grew up in poverty and was the first in my family to graduate high school and the first to attend post-secondary education. I was starting a very pivotal moment in my life, with little to no support or guidance. When I look back and think about it, the Promise Partnership was created for someone like me. As a former Hazen White-St. Francis student, I did not experience the direct one-on-one mentoring or the high school tutoring programs, but I was able to be a mentor and a tutor. This was as equally life-transforming for me as it was for the students I was working with.

I was able to navigate my university career as Hazen White-St. Francis students were navigating the new mentoring program and as they were transitioning to high school and receiving tutoring. I was, along with my community, delivering the program and equally receiving as much benefit.

I was the only student from my grade 8 class to attend and graduate university. These low numbers have stopped because of the Promise Partnership. This program is providing students with an opportunity to shape their future and break the cycle of poverty. I truly believe that education is the key to breaking the cycle and the Promise Partnership helps to turn the key.

Not just beating the odds, but changing them.


Former Promise Partnership Program Coordinator & current teacher, Nunavut

My time spent with the Promise Partnership as a coordinator was the most rewarding experience I've had in education. Every student I had the opportunity to work with in Crescent Valley enriched my life. My heart swells with pride when I hear from former students eager to tell me about a new journey they are on, whether it be new employment, post-secondary school or even purchasing their first car or home.

I look back with fond memories of my time with each student and have always been in 'awe' of their tenacity and dedication to reach their personal goals. I am so proud of all Promise Partnership students, keep working hard!

Cheers to 10 years!


Professor of Political Science, Director of Urban and Community Studies, Director of the Promise Partnership

Dr. Joanna Everitt

There can be little doubt that the UNB Saint John Promise Partnership is making a big difference in the lives of the kids growing up in Crescent Valley and the Old North End. Education matters, and these children will have more opportunities to succeed because of the mentoring and tutoring support the UNB Saint John volunteers provide. However, the experience of working as mentors and tutors has also had an important impact on the lives of the university students participating in this program. It opens their eyes to the challenges facing our community and develops in them a greater commitment to volunteering and community engagement.