Empowerment Through Education Fund will help youth achieve their post-secondary goals
When Samantha Dover first began volunteering at the Zebra Child Protection Centre nearly a decade ago, she was midway through her undergraduate studies at the University of Alberta. At the time, the volunteer role was a means to an end: She was hoping to bolster her application for postgraduate studies.
But that quickly changed.
“The kids that I met there just blew me away. The stories I heard were heartbreaking, but what I saw in these kids and their families was resilience and strength. It was inspiring,” she says.
One thing led to another, and before long, Dover found herself employed at Zebra, eventually becoming the centre’s director of community education and engagement. The role was a chance to support young people dealing with grief and trauma, while also increasing community awareness and understanding. It was rewarding and fulfilling work, but after five years at the Centre, Dover was ready to do more. In 2018, she left to pursue a master’s degree in counselling.
“The work we were doing at Zebra was great; it’s valuable and so meaningful. But I wanted to be more involved in the healing process for these kids and their families,” she says.
Today, Dover is a registered provisional psychologist and educator. One of her first priorities in setting out in this new career was finding a way to keep supporting organizations like Zebra.
“Having worked there for so long, I understood all too well what families often face when they go through trauma. They’re struggling to reorient; they end up with financial stress due to treatment or the need to change significant parts of their life. It can be overwhelming,” she says. “Creating this fund was my chance to support these families in what is likely one of the most challenging periods they’ll ever go through.”
With the Empowerment Through Education Fund at Edmonton Community Foundation, Dover hopes to promote resiliency in youth by supporting their post-secondary studies. The ultimate goal, she notes, will be to cover a student’s full tuition.
“There’s a direct correlation between education and resiliency, so with this fund, my hope is to support youth in their healing and growth,” she says. “And really, just like the name says, I hope that through education, we can give back a sense of empowerment and control to these kids and their families.”