Red River College will provide free tuition this fall to 20 students who grew up in the child welfare system.
The special bursaries will remove one of many barriers that typically see less than five percent of youth in care pursue a post-secondary education.
"Transitioning out of care can be very challenging for many youth — especially financially," said RRC president Stephanie Forsyth. "The prospect of student loans and debts may prevent capable students from receiving a post-secondary education. Red River College is delighted to be able to remove that worry for a number of students."
There are more than 9,500 children and youth in care in Manitoba, with the majority being First Nations and Métis. Typically, once youth in care turn 18 they leave the child welfare system and must fend for themselves. With few supports available, many will find themselves on social assistance or even homeless, the college said today.
A handful of RRC students has already received a Youth in Care bursary. With the program becoming permanent as of this fall, a minimum of 20 youth in care per year, selected by a child and family services authority, will be eligible to attend the college on a bursary. They will remain on an extension of care with their authority and have their living expenses covered up to the age of 21, so long as they remain students of the College and take a minimum 60 percent course load.
Students must meet regular entrance requirements. Tuition will be fully covered by revenue generated from the college’s Youth in Care bursary endowment fund, which recently received a $100,000 private donation. The college intends to fundraise $1 million to support the program on a permanent basis.
The University of Winnipeg has a similar program.