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Impact Stories

On track for success with the Youth Futures Education Fund

Twenty-year-old Jodi loves school. She’s learning new things, meeting new people and planning for a bright future as she pursues her degree through the Child and Youth Care program at Douglas College in New Westminster.

Posted: Sep 16 2020 | Last Updated: Sep 9 2021

Twenty-year-old Jodi loves school. She’s learning new things, meeting new people and planning for a bright future as she pursues her degree through the Child and Youth Care program at Douglas College in New Westminster. It was almost unimaginable for her as a child.

“I knew when we had no food. I knew when rent was late. And in the back of my head I knew I wouldn’t be able to go to college like 11-year-old me wanted,” says Jodi. It was at that age she and her brothers were placed in foster care in BC where her family was living. She remained in care until she was 19.

Education costs

Finding a place in and contributing to a better world is Jodi’s dream but getting there can be challenging for former youth in care. Along with post-secondary tuition fees, students must cover living expenses, which are almost $20,000 annually on average.

While over 80% of BC families with kids ages 19-28 support them financially, these supports are often not available to former youth in care like Jodi. Some students work multiple jobs while at school. Others hit pause on their education, withdrawing for a semester to work and save money, then returning when they can afford it.

The result? Many students take far longer to graduate. Or worse: some students burn out and withdraw altogether.

In 2020, more than 800 former youth from care like Jodi attended school on a tuition waiver program to help cover tuition fees and are hoping for support from the Youth Futures Education Fund, which helps mitigate basic living costs. Thanks to the support from United Way British Columbia – working with communities in BC’s Interior, Lower Mainland and Central & Northern Vancouver Island (United Way British Columbia) and its donors, more former youth in care are getting a fair shot at success alongside their peers. That’s local love in action.

United Way invests in youth

“Fifty (50) percent less youth aging out of care continue on to post-secondary studies compared with other youth with university graduation rates at one-sixth or less. Other young people have family to fall back on for emotional and financial support, but former youth in care often have no one, making pursuing post-secondary education and future careers challenging. Former youth in care deserve equal access to education that’s why United Way British Columbia is pleased to continue our investments into the Youth Futures Education Fund in 2021,” says Kim Winchell, Senior Director, Strategy & Operations at United Way British Columbia.

“This means the fund can help more former youth in care cover those basic living expenses like rent, food and buying books, so they can focus more fully on their schooling and reach their full potential.”

“I’m able to study and fulfill my dream thanks to the Youth Futures Education Fund,” Jodi says. “I don’t have to worry about where my next meal comes from, being evicted or student loans. It’s such a good feeling to know that this support is there.”