Unlocking the door to brighter futures for former youth in care
Friday, August 19, 2016 (Toronto, ON) - With the rising cost of education, more than 80 per cent of university students receive financial support from their parents to be able to obtain a post-secondary education. Today, it costs close to $20,000 for one year of university education including tuition, books, food and accommodations. Without parents to support them, youth in care struggle to afford a higher education.
When youth leave care at age 18, they receive an allowance of $900 per month to cover all living expenses. Although government loans are available, young people without family support are hesitant to take on large personal debts. Yet in an increasingly knowledge-based economy, post-secondary education is essential to moving beyond minimum-wage jobs and building a satisfying and rewarding career.
The Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto’s Hope for Children Fund Scholarship Program is helping former youth in care unlock the door to a brighter future and realize their dreams of post-secondary education. Since 1986, the Hope for Children Fund has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships and special achievement grants supporting nearly 2,500 youth in care and former youth in care.
Twenty-one-year-old Sheila—a former youth in care—is working hard to graduate from the University of Waterloo Business and Economics Program so that she can write the LSAT exam and apply for Law School. Ultimately, Sheila desires to become a Managing Partner at a law firm and one day offer pro-bono support to the disadvantaged.
Life hasn’t always come easy for her, but Sheila is determined to achieve her goal. “I want to have the power to make a change for people who need the most help, especially foster kids who feel like they don’t have the support they need.”
Sheila came into foster care at the age of six and credits her present-day achievements to the love and support she received from her foster mother growing up. “My (foster) Mom has been the most amazing support person. I go to her with my problems before anyone else. She calms me down when I’m stressed and brings a great perspective on things.” Sheila also credits her more than 20 foster sisters for enabling her to develop and embrace differences.
Support from the Hope for Children Fund Scholarship Program has been invaluable to Sheila. “The funding from the donors has been a saving grace,” she says. “It’s meant a lot less worrying and stress about my finances. This past year I used part of the grant to pay my co-op fees at university.”
On Tuesday, August 23, Sheila and 67 other young people will receive their scholarships at a special event at the Bram & Bluma Appel Salon. “We are so proud of our scholarship recipients,” says Hope for Children Fund Manager, Kara Spedding. “And we are forever grateful to the donors that give so generously to ensure our Crown Wards are given the gift of education.”