The United Way of the Lower Mainland has invested $150,000 in the Youth Futures Education Fund, a program that supports former foster kids, province-wide, as they pursue post-secondary education.
When going off to school, some young people have the support of family or friends to cover the immense cost. That’s not the case for former youth in care.
Despite the challenges of growing up in foster care, Soraya Bellou recently graduated from the University of British Columbia with a bachelors degree in biology. She has now completed her MCAT exams and is awaiting the results of her applications to medical school.
“When you’re young, you have big dreams,” said Bellou. “Dreams of graduating high school, going to prom with your crush, moving out of your family’s house and going to university – all with support from your family. But it’s different for kids in foster care.”
In her time in school, Bellou relied on the Youth Futures Education Fund to make her post-secondary dream possible.
“It relieved the stress of living expenses so I could focus on school,” she said. “Now, I can continue to pursue my dream of becoming a physician and giving back to others who have experienced difficulties in life.”
The investment’s impact will be felt across the Okanagan, helping several others in similar situations to Bellou.
According to the United Way, the investment will result in more local youth attending Okanagan College campuses on a provincial tuition waiver may receive support for living expenses — or those already receiving help could access more.
Last year, 43 students studied on a waiver across all four Okanagan College campuses and another nine did the same at UBCO.