Twenty-one-year-old Simranjit – Sim – has her sights set on a PhD in psychology. Her courage, support from helpful high school guidance counsellors and the Youth Futures Education Fund (YFEF), which provides support for basic living expenses like food, rent and internet, mean she’s on her way to success.
“Psychology sparked my interest because I have a great passion for learning and understanding why people think the way they do,” Sim says. “It helps me understand myself better, having gone through a tremendous amount of trauma in my life.”
Investing for future
In 2022, the Youth Futures Education Fund will disburse $600,000 to former youth in care across British Columbia like Sim so they can access vital support to help them make their educational aspirations possible.
“Youth aging into community show tremendous determination in the face of incredible odds when it comes to pursuing post-secondary education. Helping make sure they can share their knowledge, life experience and skills with our communities is part of how we build a fairer, most just and vibrant future for all,” says Maureen Young, YFEF Advisory Committee Chair. “The Youth Futures Education Fund is excited to be able to support more than youth than ever in 2022 with this increase in funding.”
This is thanks to a joint investment of $250,000 each by United Way British Columbia donors and the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training.
“Every year in BC about 850 youth age out of government care. Only 17 per cent of BC youth who have been in government care make it to post-secondary within three years of high school graduation, compared to 48 per cent of other youth. Much of this is due to lack of support,” says Kim Winchell, Provincial Director, Community Impact & Investment at United Way British Columbia – working with communities in BC’s Interior, Lower Mainland and Central & Northern Vancouver Island (United Way British Columbia), fund partner and YFEF Advisory Committee member.
“Everyone deserves equal access to education. United Way British Columbia is committed to ensuring all children and youth have the opportunity to succeed in school and in life.”
“We know this past year has been incredibly difficult for all students and especially young people who are overcoming barriers to post-secondary education,” says Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “The Youth Futures Education Fund is one more way students can shift from surviving to thriving as they can focus on creating a future through education, skills development or learning a trade to make their dreams and goals a reality.”
Persistence pays off
Sim’s road to post-secondary education has been a long one including going to high school while living in her 2003 Honda Civic, alternative education and finally completing her GED (High School Equivalency Certificate). Although, she wasn’t sure if she could afford to go, Sim applied to Langara College and was accepted.
Sim, who was on a BC Government Youth Agreement while she was completing high school is now in the Young Adult (AYA) program, which helps cover the cost of things like housing, child care, tuition and health care while students go to school or do job training. She says while the supplement helps cover rent there wasn’t much left over to cover other necessities in a month.
“I was excited to learn of the Youth Futures Education Fund from the Langara Financial Aid advisor. “Thanks to United Way and the fund, my world has shifted for the better.”
Support makes a difference
Youth Futures funding support for students ranges from $34 to $5,800, seventy-five percent of which is spent on food, damage deposits, phone bills and more.
“I have been able to pay for groceries, books, school supplies, and my bills. I can focus my time and energy on my studies without financial stress hanging over my head,” Sim says.
Sim is now in her second year at Langara College. She plans on several more semesters at the college before transferring to the University of British Columbia to pursue a degree in psychology or behavioural neuroscience.
“I am beyond grateful for being given a chance to pursue my education in full force without struggling financially to survive,” Sim says.
“Thanks to donors like you, I got to thrive educationally and emotionally. You’re helping young students like me get the support they need to realize their potential.”
Help youth like Sim succeed. Donate today.
The Youth Futures Education Fund was collaboratively established by: Coast Capital, the Province of British Columbia, and the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth. The Youth Futures Education Fund is guided by an Advisory Committee, held at the Vancouver Foundation and is administered by United Way British Columbia – working with communities in BC’s Interior, Lower Mainland and Central & Northern Vancouver Island.