Those who have lived in foster care, kinship care, or under the Children’s Aid Society are eligible for their $2,000 bursary
Ren Zhang (they/them) // Contributor
Liza Borissova // Illustrator
“[Former foster children] are the most underrepresented demographic when it comes to scholarships and bursaries,” says Joseph Dinesh, a communication coordinator for Storwell.
In addition to the lack of these monetary supports, current and former foster youth experience financial barriers, issues with employment, mental health struggles, housing and food insecurity, educational difficulties, stigma, and an overall lack of sufficient support systems. For many of those formerly living in alternative care situations, this means pursuing post-secondary studies is extremely difficult.
According to the Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, approximately 59,000 children and youth across the country are living in permanent government care with foster families, extended family, or in institutional settings. Many of those who age out of the system experience complications, said a 2017 report by the Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth. The report also concluded that “outcomes are systematically negative in predictable ways.”
Storwell Storage, a family-run storage company founded in 1986, sought to improve these outcomes, creating the Storwell Foster Children Bursary Program in 2012.
Since then, it has provided a $2,000 annual bursary to eligible students working toward their academic goals. Another goal of the bursary was to help raise awareness, in the hopes that other organizations would follow suit. Dinesh mentioned another organization that reached out to say that they appreciated Storwell’s efforts.
Since the onset of the pandemic, however, Storwell has had some struggles finding applicants.
“We removed some redundant questions, based on feedback from universities, colleges, and even former recipients of the awards.” Dinesh said.
Nikola Asambelevski, a content strategist for Storwell, added,“[in regards to] the things we were asking for in the previous application forms, we felt that some of that information was not particularly relevant to choosing a deserving candidate.” This included changes such as reducing the amount of personal financial information needed and no longer requiring the gender of applicants.
The eligibility requirements can be found on Storwell’s website, at https://www.storwell.com/bursary-application. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2023.