$600,000 is now available to 811 former youth in care, all eligible for support this school year from the Youth Futures Education Fund. The fund helps youth formerly in care pay for living expenses like rent, utilities, transportation and books.
Students are eligible if they use the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program while studying at any one of the 25 public post-secondary institutions in B.C., in a union or apprenticeship training program, or at the Native Education College; or, if they access a tuition waiver provided by their public post-secondary institution.
From foster care to medical school
Growing up, life could be challenging and unstable for Soraya and her family. While she loved being at school and cherished time with her friends, at home things were chaotic. Her family grappled with divorce and the stress of mental health challenges. She was placed in foster care.
Despite these challenges, Soraya completed a bachelor’s degree in biology at the University of British Columbia, one of the most prestigious post-secondary institutions in Canada. She has now completed her MCAT exams, and is awaiting results of her applications to medical school.
While at UBC, Soraya received support with her living expenses from the Youth Futures Education Fund, helping make her dream of a post-secondary education, possible.
“When you’re young, you have big dreams,” says Soraya. “Dreams of graduating high school, going to prom with your crush, moving out of your family’s house and going to university – all with support from your family. But it’s different for kids in foster care.
“While I was getting my degree in biology at UBC, United Way Youth Futures Education Fund gave me the wraparound supports I needed,” she adds. “It relieved the stress of living expenses so I could focus on school. Now, I can continue to pursue my dream of becoming a physician and giving back to others who have experienced difficulties in life.”
The result? Many students take far longer to graduate. Or worse: some students burn out and withdraw altogether.
But the Youth Futures Education Fund helps mitigate these costs, levelling the playing field so former youth in care get a fair shot to succeed alongside their peers.
“I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the Youth Futures Education Fund,” says Jodi.
“I don’t have to worry about my next meal, about being evicted, or student loans. Thanks to this fund my inner child is beaming with happiness.”
This academic year, 811 students are eligible for support from the Youth Futures Education Fund. That figure is almost double the 449 students supported in the 2018-19 academic year. In total, the $600,00 available represents the largest amount since the fund’s founding in 2015.
“We are thankful to the champions of the Youth Futures Education Fund, from across the province. Because of you, we are able to disburse $600,000 this year to assist over 800 B.C. students with wrap-around supports,” says Maureen Young, Chair Youth Futures Education Fund and Director of Community Leadership at Coast Capital Savings.