03/05/2015 12:13 EST | Updated 05/04/2015 05:59 EDT

Vancouver Downtown Eastside high school graduation rates under scrutiny

A new program to ensure more students from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside finish their high school education is aimed at increasing the current low number of graduates.

The Our Place Graduation Strategy was initiated by organizations based in Vancouver's inner city, including the Ray-Cam Community Centre and the Aboriginal Life in Vancouver Enhancement Society (ALIVE).

"We know that the statistics for Aboriginal kids, immigrants and low-income refugees are very challenging," said Scott Clark, executive director of ALIVE. "That's why we've been establishing this strategy over the last eight years."

Clark said the comprehensive strategy will support inner-city kids from very early childhood until their teen years.

Although he didn't have specific numbers for inner-city graduation rates, Clark said that currently only about 32 per cent of Aboriginal students graduate from high school.

The strategy includes the support of multiple community and government organizations, including health and community centres.

It will address the specific challenges of inner-city families who struggle with higher levels of family violence, addiction, and untreated mental health issues.

Clark said the model has been successful in similar communities, like Harlem in New York and certain parts of Australia.

"The success is great when community groups and governments start working together on a strategy, not a program," said Clark.