97 Greater Toronto Area students granted a Hope for Children Foundation scholarship

  • September 8, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - For most kids, foster care is no joy ride to a brighter future.

“There’s so much else going on in your life. There’s the reasons you went into care in the first place,” points out 18-year-old Nevena Seke.

This year Seke is one of 97 Greater Toronto Area students granted a Hope for Children Foundation scholarship to help launch her post-secondary education. This year the foundation which supports Catholic Children’s Aid of Toronto handed out $180,000 in scholarship money.

Seke has known she wanted to be a lawyer since she was in Grade 3, and she claims her ambition didn’t falter when Catholic Children’s Aid took her away from her parents when she was 16.

“I was definitely worried,” she concedes.

Like most students leaving high school, Seke’s worries started with money.

With the help of $2,000 from the foundation she will be enrolled at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont., with a major in political science and a minor in economics as a prelude to law school three or four years down the road. Though she used to dream of practising criminal law, her contact with social workers and child protection services has turned her interest to family law.

For 21-year-old David Horvath, $1,500 of Hope for Children money will allow him to pursue a dream he’s had as long as he can remember. In September he will begin training at Humber College to become a flight paramedic.

Hope for Children scholarships are providing the financial help most middle class kids expect from their parents.

“We don’t have our parents as a resource,” said Horvath.

It’s not that Horvath hasn’t worked his share of low-end jobs through high school. But those jobs don’t make a university or college education a reality, he said.

“On a minimum wage job it’s not possible,” said Horvath.

Horvath, who has been in care since he was 12, dreams of one day living in the British Columbia interior with a dog and maybe a family working in a job that requires him to be “strong-minded and quick-thinking.”

“It seems like an exciting job,” he said.

Since 1986 the Hope for Children Foundation has handed out more than $1.2 million in scholarships and grants to kids as they pass out of foster care and into independent lives. In the last five years the scholarship program has nearly tripled from 35 scholarships handed out in 2003.

Raising the money to support more scholarships has been a challenge, particularly in the kind of market environment of the last year, said Mary Bowyer of the foundation. Hope for Children receives no government money and must raise all its funds from private and corporate donors.

In more than 20 years of the scholarship program the graduation rate for recipients is about 90 per cent.

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