Joint investment makes educational aspirations possible for youth formerly in care

HUNDREDS of young adults, previously in government care, now have a path to achieve their educational dreams thanks to the Youth Futures Education Fund (YFEF) and its supporters, most notably United Way British Columbia – working with communities in BC’s Interior, Lower Mainland and Central and Northern Vancouver Island – and the Government of British Columbia who are each investing $250,000 into the fund.
The YFEF provides low-barrier access to funds to support living expenses like rent, food and textbooks for youth who have aged out of the foster care system and are attending a post-secondary institution through the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program.
“Equal access to education means equal access to dreams. Only 17 per cent of BC youth who have been in government care make it to post-secondary education within three years of high school graduation, compared to 48 per cent of other youth,” said Kim Winchell, Senior Director, Strategy and Operations, Community Impact and Investment United Way British Columbia, on Thursday. “Many lack the social and financial support networks that are accessible to other young people. Encouragement and guidance are essential for youth at this critical point in their lives – so is financial support. That’s why United Way British Columbia is pleased to support the Youth Futures Education Fund.”

“We know that this past year has been incredibly difficult for all students, and especially young people who are overcoming barriers to post-secondary education,” said 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.”

Not so long ago, pursuing a post-secondary education seemed an almost insurmountable goal to Simranjit (Sim) (in photo). With support from YFEF, she is now studying at Douglas College, and has her sights set on a PhD in psychology.

“Thanks to the Youth Futures Education Fund, my world has shifted for the better. 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,” said Sim. “I am beyond grateful for being given a chance to pursue my education in full force without struggling financially to survive.”

From 2020 to 2021, YFEF distributed over $550,000 to 519 students throughout British Columbia. These funds helped alleviate financial strain for students during a challenging pandemic year. In 2022, the Youth Futures Education Fund will disburse $600,000 to help ensure youth from care have equal access to educational opportunities.

“Access to post-secondary education directly impacts outcomes for young people – and nowhere is this more evident than with former foster children who have aged out of care and for whom the traditional family network of supports is not available,” said Maureen Young, Chair of the Youth Futures Education Fund and Vice President of Social Purpose at Coast Capital. “Making communities stronger and more resilient by helping young people succeed is what the Youth Futures Education Fund does best and we’re grateful for all our committed donors, and thank the United Way BC and the Province of BC for today’s meaningful announcement of support” 

For more information about the Youth Futures Education Fund or to contribute, visit: