Challenge 2025

Challenge 2025 is an ambitious five-year workforce-recovery initiative that commits intensified Mohawk College resources to address the ongoing and interconnected issues of poverty, social exclusion, under-education, labour shortages, unemployment and underemployment in the Greater Hamilton Area and across the country.

Education and training can lead to individual and family well being, generational change and community prosperity. Working with a wide range of community partners, City School by Mohawk is a proven catalyst for workforce reengagement. The City School by Mohawk program has delivered access to post-secondary education through community-based classrooms and mobile classrooms at the neighbourhood level.

Through Challenge 2025, the model is being strengthened, with additional supports from community and industry partners. Challenge 2025 has been developed and administered by Mohawk College employees, with oversight by a stewardship committee of community leaders and representatives and residents.

Challenge 2025 Goals

Based on extensive community engagement, Challenge 2025 is tasked with bold goals:

  • Partner with 100 regional employers to deliver rapid, demand-led training that closes workforce gaps; providing employers skilled workers to support their resource needs, with a region-wide reduction in the skills gap.
  • Partner with other community colleges across Canada to test the City School by Mohawk model in other regions of the country.

Shared Leadership

Mohawk College’s Challenge 2025 is evolving to focus on a workforce recovery initiative to help employers, employees and the community. Needs of today are focused on demand-led training but also the stability supports needed for education-to-employment success.

Advancing workforce priorities 2022/2023:
This approach establishes an innovative collaboration between Mohawk College,
Workforce Planning Hamilton and the Adult Basic Education Association of Hamilton.
Connecting employers, learners and education together.
Through a three-pronged model, C2025’s strength is able to continue our momentum.

  • Employer Supports Action Team led by Khadija Hamidu, Executive Director, Workforce Planning Hamilton, is ready to leverage partners and support employers for their workforce needs with custom rapid training solutions to address skills gaps and build capacity of the workforce.
  • Employee Supports Action Team led by Sara Gill, Executive Director, Adult Basic Education Association of Hamilton, is ready to support learners with skills needed and reduce barriers to education to enter the workforce.
  • Educational Partner and Secretariat role will continue at Mohawk College to support the administration of programming, accessing funding, research and our direct strength as the educational partner for course development and delivery. Project activities will focus on employer education and stability supports, through collaboration that builds on the intersectoral work and capitalizes on the unique expertise and resources of each organization.

All partners are committed to working together to support the broader collective to identify, advocate, and intervene as change agents when structural and systems barriers are limiting labour market participation and overall quality of life for those who have experienced underemployment, unemployment, poverty and other forms of social exclusion.

“I am very excited to continue our partnership with Mohawk College and the Challenge 2025 initiative as we embark on Employer Education. Being able to provide meaningful resources on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to our local employers has been a top priority between both organizations. Our goal is to help employers with the most up to date Labour Market Information that will better serve their businesses and overall workplace culture.” Khadija Hamidu, Executive Director, Workforce Planning Hamilton.

“Challenge 2025 leverages the expertise and passion of community partners and community members to achieve social impact. The Employee Pathways Action Team is working to create a safe and supportive space for participants that focuses on wellness, building confidence and moving forward.” Sara Gill, Executive Director, Adult Basic Education Association of Hamilton.

“Challenge 2025 was established in response to the alarming and growing gap between people who seeking training for meaningful, lasting jobs and those employers seeking to build their workforces. Working with our valued community and education partners, a great deal has been accomplished already and we are confident much more can be done. Mohawk College remains deeply committed to supporting this important community-driven initiative and the people and employers involved, for the good of our community and communities across the country.” Ron J. McKerlie, President & CEO, Mohawk College.

The City School Story

CitySchool Mobile Classroom

Since 2015, City School by Mohawk has extended the college into accessible community-based locations, providing diverse entry points to education and training for marginalized and under-served adults.

Learn more about City School

City School by Mohawk Logo

City School offers tuition-free, college credit courses and workshops virtually/online and in-person at our fixed sites at the Eva Rothwell Centre, Mission Services, and Hamilton Public Library Central Branch, and at various pop-up sites in Hamilton, Burlington, and Haldimand County, including our mobile classrooms.

This place-based approach allows individuals who face barriers to postsecondary education to try college for free in a supportive and familiar environment. Engaging employers in this strategy has enhanced City School’s ability to link students to local jobs with in-demand industries.

City School by Mohawk has grown exponentially, offering 85 different courses and having engaged over 1,100 unique students, who have completed nearly 2,000 courses. During this time, nearly 200 former City School students have transitioned to Mohawk College into at least one of full-time studies, part-time studies, Academic Upgrading, and/or Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada.

Through its first five years, City School has engaged with 140 local businesses and organizations, involved in consultation, curriculum development, student support, placements and eventual employment.

“I love it, because honestly, without you guys, I probably wouldn’t have the respect I have because some of the people I had to give my name [to], they didn’t trust me until I showed them my certificate.” - City School Student

Tools and Resources


Taskforce and Stewardship Committee

Challenge 2025 Stewardship Committee Members

ArcelorMittal Dofasco
David Cameron

Economic Development, City of Hamilton
Jennifer Patterson
Norm Schleehahn

Healthy and Safe Communities, City of Hamilton
Irene Heffernan
Jennifer Hohol
Grace Mater
Jodi Rushton

Community Members
Nicole Bellamy
Sandy Leyland
Devin Lothian
Sarah Merritt
Jeff (JP) Renecker

Hamilton Community Foundation
Sarah Glen
Matt Goodman

Hamilton Health Sciences
Dianne Norman

Hamilton Public Library
Sherry Fahim
Amir Feridooni

Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction
Tom Cooper

Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board
Maria Calabrese

Hamilton Wentworth District School Board
Bill Torrens

McMaster University
Celeste Licorish

Social Capital Partners
Judy Doidge

Social Planning and Research Council of Hamilton
Sara Mayo

Workforce Planning Hamilton
Victor Cicman
Khadija Hamidu
Judy Travis

Maisie Raymond-Brown
Deborah Schwientek

Thank you to Social Impact Advisors and Deloitte Canada for their continued support on this initiative, along with a special thanks to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development for ongoing guidance.

Government of Canada, City School by Mohawk, Mohawk College, Employment Ontario, and Government of Ontario logos

This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

Mohawk Foundation

Mohawk Foundation Banner

In addition to direct investments from the college, the Mohawk Foundation is deeply committed to supporting the development of funding partners for the expansion of City School, to broaden its impact in marginalized communities locally, and across Canada.

Learn more about Mohawk Foundation

Contact us to learn more

For more information, please contact:

Tracey Bailey
Executive Strategist
Mohawk College Foundation
tracey.bailey [at]

Jody Brown
Manager, Community Access, Engagement, and Research (City School and Challenge 2025 Staff Lead)
Jody.Brown2 [at]