United Way of the Lower Mainland gives an unprecedented $350,000 to support former foster youth to achieve educational dreams and alleviate COVID-19 financial strain

Thanks to $350,000 investment, young adults like Jodi – formerly in government care, now pursuing social work – can attain their education goals

Vancouver, BC, Sept. 16, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — United Way of the Lower Mainland is showing local love and significantly increasing its investment in the Youth Futures Education Fund to $350,000 – in addition to $150,000 invested in 2019. Now even more B.C. youth who have aged out of foster government care can thrive at school – and in life.

COVID-19 hit students hard. As they vacated dorms in the Spring, many students returned home, but that wasn’t the case for many former youth in care: they didn’t have families to return to. Recipients of the Youth Futures Education Fund often do not have family support to cover living expenses like rent, food and transportation. Thanks to the fund, those expenses are covered and many recipients weathered the COVID crisis well. These young people are ready for the new school year.

Young people like Jodi.

Opaskwayak Cree by heritage, Jodi grew up in B.C. She went into the foster care system at age 11.  Despite the incredible adversity she faced, Jodi was resilient, and sought solace at school.  “When I went into foster care, school was the only stable piece of my life,” Jodi says. But she was determined to graduate – and more.  “I wanted to be a vision of success for my family,” Jodi says. I always knew my mom would be happy to see me graduate [high school], but I didn’t stop there.”  She is pursuing her social work degree through the Child and Youth Care program at Douglas College in New Westminster. It was something that was almost unimaginable for her as a child.

Jodi received support with her living expenses from the Youth Futures Education Fund, helping make her dream of a post-secondary education, possible.

The Youth Futures Education Fund helps former youth in care cover living expenses while advancing their education. Students on a tuition waiver may be eligible. Tuition waivers are available to young people who have aged out of foster care as they study at any one of the 25 public post-secondary institutions in B.C., or at the Native Education College.

With United Way’s announcement of $350,000 for the fund, now even more youth formerly in government care have the chance to succeed in school and reach their full potential.

This fund was made possible by innovative partnerships from many sectors across the province, partners like Coast Capital Savings and the Province of B.C.


“Fifty (50) percent less youth aging out of care continue on to post-secondary studies compared with other youth; university graduation rates are 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. The COVID-19 pandemic has made these challenges even harder. The Youth Futures Education Fund helps former youth in care cover basic living expenses like rent, food and buying books, so they can focus more fully on their schooling and reach their full potential during this critical time.”

– Kim Winchell, Senior Director, Strategy & Operations at United Way of the Lower Mainland

“I’m able to study and fulfill my dream thanks to the Youth Futures Education Fund. 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.”

– Jodi, former youth in care in B.C., Douglas College undergraduate


The Youth Futures Education Fund helps youth formerly in government care pay for their living expenses as they pursue post-secondary education or training.

To access the fund, students should visit the financial aid office of their post-secondary institution. More information can be found on https://youthfutures.ca/.

In 2015, the Youth Futures Education Fund was collaboratively established by: Coast Capital Savings, 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 of the Lower Mainland.

Special thanks to Coast Capital Savings, United Way of the Lower Mainland and the Province of BC for their ongoing leadership and support of the Youth Futures Education Fund.


  • Basic living expenses for students are almost $20,000 per year, on average.
  • In 2020, more than 800 former youth from care are attending school on a tuition waiver and hoping for support from the Youth Futures Education Fund.
  • Over 80% of BC families with children ages 19-28 support them financially, these supports are often not available to former youth in care.
  • There are about 6,150 children in government care in B.C.
  • The Youth Futures Education Fund helped 464 young people pursue their educational dreams in 2018/19, up 24% from the previous year.
  • 26% of students supported from the Youth Futures Education Fund are Indigenous.
  • Only 6% of students who use the Youth Futures Education Fund withdraw from their studies – an incredibly low drop-out rate for students with such complex barriers.
  • The most common way students use Youth Futures funding is to buy books and supplies.
  • The Youth Futures Education Fund has helped almost 1,500 students since 2015.