What We Do

Vancouver Urban Ministries provides a spectrum of free specialized help and support to children with learning difficulties and their families in the poorest neighborhoods of East Vancouver.

The children we serve are among the most vulnerable in our community. The challenges they face include poverty, chaotic lifestyles and severe learning difficulties which require one-on-one support. Without help, these children will likely fail to advance in their education and their opportunities for achieving stable employment in adulthood will be greatly reduced. Our passion is to provide significant support for improving their education, help them grow in understanding their self-worth, give them confidence in social interactions, and provide hope for them and their families for a brighter future.

We provide support through Specialized Tutoring, Music Lessons, and Community Events.

Free Specialized Tutoring Program

Rising Above Tutoring Program


One-on-One Tutoring

The Rising Above Tutoring Program uses the proven Orton-Gillingham approach which engages a multitude of the children’s senses. We also provide a nurturing and loving atmosphere where students know that they are valued and loved – a key ingredient to success.

With your support, these children can rise above their challenges to reach their full potential.

Our goal is for all our students to have a genuinely positive learning experience in elementary school and gain a strong foundation for success in their high school education and in life.

Our Students receive:

  • Regular one-on-one tutoring in reading, writing and math using the Orton-Gillingham approach
  • A healthy snack and time to play before each tutoring session
  • The chance to attend field trips throughout the year
  • Opportunities to participate in Family Gatherings with all the students from the tutoring program

Our students are referred to this program by their teachers or school counselors. When they are referred, they are usually 2 years behind in school.

VUM currently has trained tutors operating in 2 schools in East Vancouver.
Training for tutors takes place at the beginning and in the fall of each year.

Words from the community:

“I am reading more now. My spelling and writing has improved a little too. The concept cards really helped me think about what I have learned. They give me more confidence.”

  • A student from the tutoring program

"Your one to one program is valuable for all our students because they come to school so emotionally needy.  This is rare to see in our school. We often are not able to do that, and it is not characteristic of us to be asked. The students begin to read, but their social and emotional wellbeing is also being addressed. The love shared implies the message safe."

  • Principal, MacDonald Elementary


"I was always worried about my son’s school performance. 

Although Canadian born, he was always put in ESL help until grade 5. The tutoring program has helped him improve a lot. The program really helped because I’m a single mom and cannot afford the tutoring my son needed. I am very happy to see my son receive a B in English because before that he usually would get a C or C-."

  • Mother of child with a reading disability

“I’m enjoying school now. I like reading stories, they make me think but my strength is my drawing.”

  • A student from the tutoring program

Vancouver Urban Ministries tutored both of my daughters and they are now in high school. Now my son is being tutored. I am very grateful for the help VUM has been to my family.

First Nation father

Private Music Lessons

The Eagle Youth Music School

Eagle Youth Music School

The Eagle Youth Music School enriches our students’ lives by providing free private music lessons for innercity elementary school students coming from low-income family backgrounds.

One-on-one private piano lessons are available from professional and practicing musicians.

Due to a lack of funding, not all schools are able to sustain music programs. As many families are not able to afford music lessons, we have partnered with X'pey Elementary since 2008 to provide free music lessons for their students and neighbourhoods.

Apply to be a volunteer music teacher with VUM. Click the link below. 

Music school recital 2019 5

The Benefits of Music

According to research, musical abilities boost students’ confidence and ability – enabling students to perform better at school.

The benefits of learning an instrument include:

  1. Learning discipline
  2. Stress relief
  3. Enjoyment
  4. A sense of achievement.

Words from the community:

"I enjoy the music lessons very much, I feel happy and relaxed when I can play. It helps me forget about the troubles in my life."

  • EYMS student

"It is always a delight to watch the music students perform with such great confidence and with smiles on their faces."

  • Esther Leung-Kong, Eagle Youth Music School Director

Community Events

Community Meals and Summer Programs!

Just as importantly as providing a tutoring program, we pay special attention to building caring, supportive, nurturing long-term relationships. Our goal is to encourage the children and their families to develop a greater sense of self-worth and confidence and to grow in their social skills through positive and meaningful interactions.

Family Group

Community Events & Summer Program

People need good news! Our Community Events provide opportunities for children and families to hear life-transforming good news for their future development.

Throughout the year, including Christmas and summer, our staff and volunteers organize awesome fun and educational events for children, youth and families. They’re meaningful ways to keep kids active in learning while making sure they’re having lots of fun playing in safe spaces. As well, they’re a great way for participants to make friends, develop social skills, and celebrate life together!

happy camp

Family Gatherings

At these monthly family gatherings we share a meal together and develop closer relationships with the children and families. Through music, fun family activities and inter-active talks we celebrate life and share healthy, intentional, positive values. Our desire is that by engaging with these values, our families will grow in hope and find meaning for their future together.

If your group would like to help out in setting up, preparing or purchasing a meal for one or more of our Family Gatherings, please volunteer HERE




Every year, with the sponsorship of some amazing partners, we send the children from our programs to summer camp. This is a fantastic and life-changing experience for our kids and we are so grateful to everyone who participates in this adventure.

These Community Events cannot happen without your help!  If you or your group would like to become involved in helping to plan and run one of our events, we would love to hear from you. Please volunteer HERE

Do you want to make sure these children get the continual help that they need?