Fitzroy Youth Homework Club – Young Assets Foundation

We recently spoke to Joseph Lorback, Education Programs Manager, and Mubarek Imam, Executive Director from the Young Assets Foundation about the Fitzroy Youth Homework Club and the strength of community.

“Students have been one of the most impacted during this pandemic. YAF students showed resilience and commitment and we are proud that YAF and its supporters were there for them when the young people needed it” – Mubarek Imam, Executive Director.

Tell us about your program?

The Young Assets Foundation (YAF) is a youth led organisation established and run by Mubarek Imam and other young people from the City of Yarra housing estate. This organisation grew out of the gap between services for the community and the communities themselves. YAF puts young people at the front and centre of identifying areas of need and designing and implementing responses.

The Fitzroy Youth Homework Club (FYHC) had been operating under the Brotherhood of St Lawrence for around 30 years before it came into the hands of the Young Assets Foundation. It was a strong program that supported young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds in years 7-12 with additional education support. The importance of this program for the young people in the city of Yarra was widely recognised and when the program was phased out there was a passionate community response in ensuring this valuable and respected program would continue. Joseph reached out to the YAF, and through a partnership with Yarra Libraries and backed by the determination of the community and the young people who attended, the program was reformed. The FYHC continues to run five nights a week, ensuring consistency in the program through this transitional phase. The reformed program aims to involve the community and young people directly with all levels of the program. A student steering committee was established and  now informs the direction of the homework club.

Another new feature of the program is the additional focus on mentoring and pathway support. The program has dedicated mentors for students in year 12, who provide crucial support to navigate the challenges of their final year of school and beyond. These mentors also provide support through the transitional period to further studies, and as young people move through their tertiary studies and onto career pathways. The FYHC provides a safe space for young people each night of the week, where they have ownership of the program and can access varied supports for their learning and life journeys.

“I finished six assignments in my first 9 months. Where before I was literally struggling for six months to finish my first assignment” – FYHC university student

What are some key highlights or successes from your program?

The passionate response from the community has been a real highlight for the homework club, and without this, the program may not have been able to continue. There has been immense support in the form of volunteers with over 30 volunteers coming on board within the first month, responding to and valuing the youth led structure and community focus of this program. There are now 55 volunteers supporting the program, with seven of these being past homework club students. Through the lockdowns they have gone above and beyond in transitioning from face-to-face tutoring to Zoom tutoring, while ensuring the students can still get the support they need. Local organisations such as Fitzroy Library and Yarra Youth Services have been valuable partners in helping the establishment and ongoing support for the homework club. Fitzroy library not only helped in the initial phase of restarting the program through staff support and promotion, but through numerous lockdowns have continuously welcomed students back into the space as soon as possible.  The program was recently successful in winning the OSHLSP of the Year – Metropolitan award through CMY’s MY Education Awards. This award recognised the hard work and dedication of the staff, volunteers and students within the homework club and was a great achievement.

“And now I can give back, helping another young person become…to where they want to be in life” – past FYHC student and now volunteer