United Way Campaign

Our 2022 - 2027 District Strategic Plan values of equity, connection and relationships, well-being and sustainability are fully embraced within this year’s United Way campaign. We know that as members of this thriving Thompson-Nicola-Cariboo region, we depend on each other and our community partners.

In 2021, United Way BC Thompson Nicola Cariboo invested more than $1.3 million to support nearly 80,000 individuals in this region, including programs beneficial to our students. Here are some examples of United Way programs:

  • United Way's Schools Out program:  free or low barrier after-school care for vulnerable kids ages 5-12 between the critical hours of 3 pm - 6 pm.  This program is being stewarded by the BGC and Kamloops Immigrant Services and they focus on supporting kids with homework help, life skills, basic needs (food and nutrition), and social and emotional support 

  • Youth Future's Education Fund (YFEF) - Supports kids aging out of government care at the age of 19 to go to University on a government-funded tuition waiver.  This fund provides students with low-barrier access to funds to support living expenses, like food, books, damage deposits, bills, transportation, and technology.  It allows former youth in care to focus on their studies and not survival.

  • Chris Rose Therapy Centre for Autism Society: Integrated Physical Program for school-age children 

  • A Way Home Kamloops Society: 16 – 24 years, The Life Skills program at A Way Home Kamloops connects youth to the skills they will need to one day move into independent housing. 

  • BGC Kamloops (Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops): Provide low (children's) to no-cost (youth) programs to ensure those who need our services most can access them easily. 

  • Clearwater Secondary School: Breakfast program, staffed by student volunteers, parent volunteers, and school staff, providing simple low-cost food; after-school programming open to students, responsive to student requests, we ran programs that included physical activity, fine arts, and a games club; Everyone can Play, this fund specifically targeted removing financial barriers for students in poverty; and Beyond the Hurt, a Red Cross anti-bullying program. 

  • People in Motion: Memories In Motion supports people living with physical disabilities (including children and youth) to take to last-minute doctor appointments, Kelowna Cancer Clinic, social events, and by donation only. 

  • Kamloops-Cariboo Regional Immigrants Society: Mentoring, Empowerment, and Tutoring (MET) for Newcomer Children and Youth, with the objectives to facilitate a higher level of Social-Emotional well-being and increase academic achievements among newcomer students, in collaboration with teachers across School District 73 to support newcomer students as they transition into a new community. 

  • The Tree: The drop-In Program for Women and their children to attend and access a healthy lunch, workshops, 1:1 support, onsite counseling, mentorship, donations of clothing and food, and referrals to other programs in the community. 

  • Butler Urban Farms (Kamloops Food Policy Council): The Good Food Box program and school tours for students. 

  • PIT Stop Program (Kamloops United Church): Year-round we provide a hot, nutritious, served meal to our guests each Sunday afternoon, our guests include seniors, youths, families, and adults, many of whom may be marginalized or street-entrenched community members. 

  • Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services Society: Vantage point worked with our Board members to create succession planning, and this planning will directly impact our clients (children, youth, and families) and the Metis community. 

  • Phoenix Centre (Kamloops Society for Alcohol and Drug Services): provides a 20, bed in-patient medical detox, youth alcohol, and drug counseling, day treatment for youth with problematic substance use issues. 

  • Yellowhead Community Services: Food vouchers for food and transportation for individuals and families, in the form of grocery cards, farmers market food coupons, gas cards, taxi vouchers, and bus tickets. 

  • YMCA-YWCA Kamloops: Kamloops PEACE Program offers support services and counseling to children who witness violence, and the parents’ experiencing violence or their caregivers (grandparents, extended family and foster parents). 

These programs succeed through your donations to the United Way. Please support the Thompson Nicola Region United Way campaign to make either a one-time donation to the United Way, or make a pledge through payroll to donate each payday. Campaign details will be available soon. 

Youth Futures Education Fund – Be the change you want to see

Ever since she was a little girl, Elanis knew she wanted to make a difference with her life. Her experience as a toddler in foster care, and the difficulties she faced when she was adopted at the age of 6, inspired her passion to become a social worker. “I want to be there for children and youth that might feel like no one is listening to them. I know what they may be going through.”

With support from the Youth Futures Education Fund (YFEF), Elanis is well on her way to creating the life she wants. The fund was established to cover basic living expenses like rent, food, bills, and textbooks. Elanis was relieved to learn she could use it when her old car broke down, and when she needed new tires. She didn’t have to miss a class and she wasn’t left with bills she wouldn’t have been able to pay. “I’m so passionate about wanting to be a social worker and being in this program. I want to be able to give them my all, and not have to worry about these other things.”

For young adults who have been in government care, a post-secondary education can seem out of reach. Although a tuition waiver program gives them the opportunity for education, additional funding can be the difference between earning a degree or not being able to continue because of financial pressures.

That’s where YFEF is making a difference. Basic annual living expenses for students amounts to $26,400 on average. For those living on their own with little or no family support, like Elanis, simply making rent can be a huge challenge. The fund also helps with expenses like technology, fuel for the car, phone bills, healthcare, and food. It’s vital support as the cost of living continues to rise.

YFEF partners with 27 post-secondary institutions throughout the province to ensure equal access to education. This includes Thompson Rivers University, where Elanis is studying. In 2020-2021, over $550,000 was disbursed, providing 519 students with low-barrier access to funds.

“Thanks to British Columbia’s Provincial Tuition Waiver Program, we’re seeing more former youth in care attend post-secondary than ever before and the resultant need for help with living expenses also continues to grow,” says Maureen Young, Coast Capital’s vice-president social purpose and chair of the Youth Futures Education Fund.

YFEF means support

In 2021, 5,259 children were in government care in British Columbia; 810 of those youth transitioned out of care or youth agreement. Like Elanis, many have faced a great deal of adversity, and ‘starting over’ with little or no support can be daunting.

Investments of $250,000 each into the fund by the Province of British Columbia and United Way British Columbia – working with communities in BC’s Interior, Lower Mainland, and Central & Northern Vancouver Island (United Way BC), along with support from many other donors are helping ensure youth formerly in care can follow their passions, working towards careers that matter to them. In 2022-2023, the Youth Futures Education Fund will distribute $600,000 across the province, ensuring these students can focus on their studies, not just survival.

Experience drives motivation

When she was in Kindergarten, Elanis was adopted and became close to her adoptive dad; he was her rock. In 2011 when he suddenly passed away, she found herself heartbroken and back in foster care. The ongoing feeling that nobody was listening to her was instrumental in motivating her to make something of her life. She fought hard to graduate with honours and was determined to learn from the past to become the kind of social worker she always wanted to have, but never did.

“I’m doing my practicum here at Lii Michif Otipemisiwak Family and Community Services. I’m Métis, and I don’t really know much about that part of me, but I have been learning about it here. And so, I think that after I grad, I’ll apply to some places here so that I can help other Métis or Indigenous children that might be going through what I went through.” Elanis said.

“Youth aging out of care experience severe financial challenges – particularly in the first few years,” says Jasica Grewal, United Way BC Director, Community Impact and Investment. “Over half of these youth will face challenges paying for secured housing, paying for living expenses or transportation. YFEF helps to support these costs so youth can focus on their education. Youth who have their basic needs met report better overall wellbeing and health. YFEF is providing these protective factors through the low barriered fund to ensure they thrive.”

Elanis is grateful for the financial support, so she can live her life.

“I would like to say a big ‘Maarsii,’ which is ‘thank you’ in Michif, which is the Métis language. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to fully invest in my future and my education. I don’t know how my life would be if I didn’t get the help from the donors. It’s made a big difference in my life.”

Help more youth achieve their dreams

Over 2,000 students have been served since YFEF was first established in 2014, but more young people need support to be successful. By donating, you are helping youth build a solid foundation to approach their education and their futures.

Let’s be here for brighter futures. For youth like Elanis.


United Way Campaign Letter

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