The Mosaic company is putting $1 million into a program to boost performance at Mother Teresa Middle School — but the government will pay it back if enough students graduate from high school on time.

The province calls the fund a "social impact bond" and has used the model once before — with a non-government social agency in Saskatoon that helps single mothers.

This will be the first time the bond approach is being tried at a Saskatchewan school.

"It's an expensive program we couldn't afford to do it everywhere across the province," said education minister Don Morgan.

"If it does exactly what we want and hope to do we can move forward with some taxpayer funding dollars."

Mother Teresa has a high percentage of indigenous students who historically have had lower graduation rates than non-Indigenous students.

A variety of strategies are being employed to try to boost those rates with the Mother Teresa students.

It said all of the students in its initial grade 6 class in 2011, are still in high school and on track to graduate.

The deal

The middle school is for grades six through eight, but the program lasts for five years and is designed to follow the approximately 88 students into high school.

If 82 per cent of them graduate from Grade 12 on time, the province will pay the Mosaic Company Foundation back all its money with 1.3 per cent annual interest added.

With a 75 per cent graduation rate, three-quarters of the money is repaid and there's no interest.

Below 75 per cent, the province doesn't refund the money.

The province will pay Mosaic if the graduation rate is achieved in 2022.

The potash company said it will help and support the students by having employees visit the school and even act as mentors.

"We made a choice to really go all-in with a a focused impact in a place we thought would be a good test model." said Mosaic senior vice president of potash Bruce Bodine.

Initial class on track to graduate in 2018

Draydin Cyr was in the first class at Mother Teresa in 2011. He's now in grade 11 at Notre Dame in Wilcox. He said Mother Teresa School set him on a path to graduate.

"They expected me to do more. Come to school more, work harder in classes. Push me to do more introduced me into sports. Got me into playing football, wrestling and pushed me to want to do more," Cyr said.

Cyr said he would like to attend post secondary school and play football.

Draydin Cyr

Former Mother Teresa student Draydin Cyr speaks with the school's founder Paul J. Hill. (CBC)

Cyr's former classmate Tameeka Severight is also in grade 11 at Notre Dame. Her mother died in the fall of 2011.

"The first week in I had lost my mom. I wasn't doing my school work. I wouldn't participate with the kids,". said Severight. The principal told me you're just digging yourself a hole. It's going to get deeper and harder to climb out of. I let that sink in and it kind of changed everything,"

Severight said she wants to be a veterinarian. 

The school was founded in 2011 by businessman Paul J. Hill with the support of partners Harvard Developments, the Regina Catholic school board, Campion College, and the Jesuits.