September 20, 2018 - 3:45pm
September 22 Canada Learning Bond signup event launches new initiative to support learners from low-income families
Every child should have the opportunity to access post-secondary education.
With this belief in mind, Vancouver Island University (VIU) is launching the Canada Learning Bond Accelerator Program – an initiative designed to boost the number of families accessing free government grants to help save for post-secondary – and organizing a free awareness event for families on September 22.
The Canada Learning Bond (CLB) is a government grant of up to $2,000 for eligible children. It’s free and families are not required to put in any additional money, yet uptake within the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) is low – there are about 9,900 children who qualify but are not yet signed up. To boost these numbers, VIU is fundraising to add an extra incentive. The Canada Learning Bond Accelerator Project aims to raise $50,000 to support 100 local children with an additional $500 incentive when they sign up for a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and the CLB grant.
The Rotary Club of Nanaimo and Rotary Club of Nanaimo Oceanside are supporting the campaign with donations of $10,000 and $3,000 respectively towards the $50,000 goal and are helping with the September 22 awareness event.
“Nanaimo Rotary is pleased to support this initiative to benefit Nanaimo’s youth,” says Rotary Club of Nanaimo President Charles Ramos. “Funds raised within the community are creating opportunities, and opening doors, for our young people.”
"We would love to see ALL children in our community have an opportunity for higher education,” adds Rotary Club of Nanaimo Project Manager Debbie Narver. “This pilot project is an exciting first step!"
Statistics show that children with as little as $500 in an RESP are four times more likely to go to post-secondary.
“Our goal with this project is to change the narrative in homes to include discussions about education after high school and start conversations like ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’” says William Litchfield, Associate Vice-President of University Relations and Executive Director of the VIU Foundation. “We want to ensure all children have the opportunity to dream big and access the education they need to achieve their dreams.”
VIU is working with local agencies to select the 100 students who will benefit from this program. If more than $50,000 is raised, additional students will benefit. For each additional $500 put in a child’s bank account through the Accelerator Project, the federal government will also add an extra $200, meaning each child could have up to $6,000 in the RESP by the time they graduate high school without any parental contribution.
Families are invited to come out to a free event on Saturday, September 22 at Fairview Community School from 10 am to 2 pm. The VIU Foundation is partnering with SmartSAVER, a non-profit community project that makes it easier for families to access free government grants for post-secondary education; the Rotary Clubs of Nanaimo and Nanaimo Oceanside; VIU Alumni Association; and the Royal Bank of Canada to host the event, which includes children’s activities, food and support for low-income families to sign up for the CLB. Families are asked to bring identification and a Social Insurance Number for themselves and their children if they intend to sign up.
“The number one barrier preventing some low-income families from taking advantage of programs like the CLB is not realizing the program exists in the first place,” says Dave Forrester, Manager of Alumni Relations for VIU. “This is one step towards ensuring all youth, no matter their families’ financial circumstances, see post-secondary education as something that’s attainable for them.”
To learn more about the CLB awareness and sign-up event, please call Dave at 250-740-6214.
Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University