Tapping Millions in Postsecondary Education Funding for Aboriginal Youth


June 1, 2015
Millions of dollars in federal funding for postsecondary education are currently going unclaimed by Aboriginal families, but a new partnership announced today aims to change that. Several Indigenous-focused non-profit organizations, academic institutions, private and community foundations and financial institutions are teaming up to encourage participation in the Canada Learning Bond among Aboriginal people in Canada.
“The Canada Learning Bond remains largely untapped,” said Stephen Huddart, President of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, which is one of the initiative’s partners. “A rough estimate suggests that as many as 200,000 Aboriginal children are eligible for the Canada Learning Bond and that this number is likely to grow as Indigenous populations increase.”
The partnership was announced at the closing events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, held in Ottawa as part of ongoing efforts to make reconciliation a reality in Canada. The Bond is offered by the Government of Canada and gives low-income families an opportunity to start saving for their children’s post-secondary education through a Registered Education Savings Plan. It consists of a $500 initial contribution, with an additional $100 per year until the child turns 15 to a maximum of $2,000 per child. The fund can be supplemented by other provincial and national education grants.
 “We know that Aboriginal people with higher education earn greater incomes, and that salaries increase dramatically with post-secondary degrees,” said Diane Roussin, Executive Director of the Winnipeg Boldness Project, an inner city initiative aimed at improving outcomes for young children in the Point Douglas area. “By encouraging early planning and savings for a child’s post-secondary education we can dramatically improve educational outcomes.”
Studies have shown that when it comes to low income students, only 45% of high school students (with no post-secondary savings) enroll in post-secondary education and only 7% graduate. By contrast, 72% of high school students with even some post-secondary savings enroll in college and 33% graduate, suggesting that savings themselves act as an incentive for attending and finishing post-secondary.
“When it comes to reaching Aboriginal people, Friendship Centres are a great service delivery mechanism,” said Jeffrey Cyr, Executive Director of the National Association of Friendship Centres. “We believe we can lend a great deal of value to this project by leveraging our national network to launch pilot projects in key friendship centres across Canada.”
The partnership consists of the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, National Association of Friendship Centres, Winnipeg Boldness Project, Inspirit Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada, Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, Vancouver Island University and SmartSAVER, a national program operated in partnership with BMO, Meridian, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank, TD Bank Group and Vancity, to facilitate Canada Learning Bond enrolment.
For more information, contact:
Alysha Akoodie
Communications and Social Media Officer
National Association of Friendship Centres
T: (613) 563-4844
E: aakoodie@nafc.ca