Scholarships for Youth Bring Hope

TORONTO—On Wednesday, August 24, 2011, more than 100 current and former youth in the care of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS) received scholarships valued at close to $200,000 from Hope for Children.

“With the rising cost of post-secondary education and the difficulties youth currently face in finding summer employment, these scholarships provide much-needed financial support. Being able to pursue a post-secondary education is critical in helping youth break away from poverty and unemployment,” says Fernando Saldanha, Manager, Fund Development and Operations.

Under provincial legislation, youth must leave their foster or group home at the age of 18, and are forced to deal with the financial burden of independent living such as rent, utility costs, laundry, and groceries, in addition to tuition and text books. Children’s Aid Societies are advocating for the province to allow youth to stay in care until the age of 21 to ease the transition for youth.

Former CCAS youth in care, Neola, is studying towards her business degree in Montreal. For her, being able to access scholarships after leaving care has provided enormous financial relief. “Being 18 and on my own, it’s a lot more difficult to find the money to go to school. This scholarship gives me an alternative to student loans and will leave me in a better place financially when I graduate,” she says. Neola, who moved to independence at age 17, has already started her own talent company and knows that her education will help her develop her business. “I have friends who work too and they want to spend money, but they have parents, they don’t pay rent, they don’t worry about bills. When you don’t have parents to help, you always feel like the money goes so quickly.”

Since 1986, Hope for Children has awarded more than $2.5 million in scholarships and special achievement grants supporting students in their educational pursuits.

Hope for Children supports independent living and youth mentoring programs for adolescents, post-secondary scholarships, emergency grants to assist during times of financial crisis, and enhancement grants to nurture development opportunities.

Hope for Children’s Annual Scholarship Event was held on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at the Great Hall, Hart House, University of Toronto, 7 Hart House Circle, Toronto.