Saving a Scholarship Fund

Solution helps former youth in care attend post-secondary school

For many families, it takes a big chunk of their budget to pay for a child’s post-secondary education. But what happens if you were raised in care, and don’t have a family?

In 2000, a non-profit agency called Acadia House set up a scholarship fund with Edmonton Community Foundation to assist such students. Several years after the fund was created, Acadia House lost its charitable status and ECF had to find a new way to administer the funding.

“Because of income tax law, we can only grant to other charities,” says Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s director of grants and community engagement.

In 2014, ECF found an organization with similar goals: McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association.

Active throughout Alberta since 1975, McMan works with the province to help children, youth and families with such services as group care and Supported Independent Living, says Marnie McMullen, program manager for Supported Independent Living in Edmonton. The non-profit also offers supportive community living that helps young adults learn the skills they need to live
independently after they leave care provided by Alberta’s Ministry of Children’s Services. It’s those youth that are eligible to receive the Acadia House Scholarship.

“We look for youth doing a post-secondary education program that’s going to help them in gaining a career they’re interested in, and (select) youth with the most financial need,” says McMullen.

Rather than create a new scholarship fund for McMan, ECF added an additional $600 per year to the organization’s existing bursary program. It was a way to efficiently but effectively use the Acadia House fund so it can continue doing what it was established for, says Stumpf-Allen.

Since 2014, McMan has awarded the scholarship to three youth, including a young woman who is raising three young children with her partner and has legal guardianship of her younger sister.

After upgrading a number of high school courses, the woman was accepted to a nursing program and intends to become a lactation consultant for new mothers. This past fall, she began her program and has used the scholarship to help pay for supplies and books.

“For a young person, she’s taken on a lot but has done very well,” says McMullen. “We just think the world of her.”