PRESS RELEASE: Vancouver Charity Combatting Youth Homelessness Selected as One of Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities for the 2nd Year in a Row
Vancouver Charity Combatting Youth Homelessness Selected as One of Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities for the 2nd Year in a Row
VANCOUVER, BC – Aunt Leah’s Place, a Metro Vancouver charity providing housing, education, job training and support for youth aging out of foster care and young moms and babies, has been selected by Charity Intelligence (Ci), for the 2nd year in a row, as one of Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities for 2018.
The 2018 Top 10 Impact Charities cover charities providing social services in Canada as well as international programs. Charity Intelligence’s rigorous analysis measures the “difference”, or the impact, charities make. Of the 125 Canadian charities that Charity Intelligence analysed for impact, Aunt Leah’s was evaluated as one of the Top 10 Impact Charities delivering returns of 6 times for every dollar donated.
“Aunt Leah’s Place is honoured to be chosen as a Top 10 Charity by Charity Intelligence. Our vision is to create an environment where all children connected to the foster care system have equal opportunities akin to their parented peers.” Says Executive Director Sara h Stewart. “One of the risks that youth aging out of foster care face is becoming homeless.”
The first youth homelessness Count in Metro Vancouver, conducted by the B.C. Non-Profit Housing Association on behalf of Metro Vancouver, found that half of the 681 homeless youth surveyed are or were previously in foster care. “This count confirms what we know. Our young people from foster care have been struggling and continue to struggle once they age out.” Says Stewart.
The homelessness number corresponds with a University of Victoria report, Avoiding the Precipice, which found that almost half of kids in foster care will experience homelessness when they age of care at 19. In contrast, the study found that Aunt Leah’s services and supports helped former foster youth avoid homelessness and maintain market housing. The study showed that an average of 86% of Aunt Leah’s participants were safe, independent and in housing. In 2016, 93% of moms leaving the Aunt Leah’s Threshold Program, a unique program that provides housing and support for homeless moms and their children, secured safe housing and maintained custody of their children.
According to Greg Thomson, Director of Research at Charity Intelligence, “Social impact is primarily about changing lives and Aunt Leah’s is very cost-effectively changing lives in two main ways. First, it breaks the cycle of foster care by supporting young mothers and preventing their babies from going into foster care. And second, it helps bridge the gap for kids who “age-out” of the foster system with housing and finding jobs. Charity Intelligence finds Aunt Leah’s to be a High Impact charity.”
Stewart is hopeful that some of the government initiatives that have recently been introduced for foster kids aging out of care will produce better outcomes for this vulnerable population.
“Exciting things have been happening for youth in and from foster care in BC this past year. The province has provided a tuition waiver for youth from care at all public post-secondary institutions. This has allowed for more young people from foster care to attend university or college.”
Braydon Chapelas, a foster youth advocate and former foster youth himself is appreciative of the tuition assistance and the support that Aunt Leah’s provided him when he was leaving the foster system. Aunt Leah’s Support Link program provided him with essential skills training to live on his own. Aunt Leah’s also helped him by providing housing and other supports which enabled him to finish high school and enroll in university. Braydon is now a fashion marketing student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University and works part time at Aunt Leah’s as the Communications and Marketing Assistant. Braydon recently attended the Policy Solutions rally in Victoria advocating for a universal and comprehensive agreements for all youth aging out of care in BC. “Expanding supports for youth who age out of care in BC is crucial to combat youth homelessness and support them to reach their potential.” Says Chapelas.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018, Aunt Leah’s has a long tradition of social entrepreneurship, operating several businesses which both give employment opportunities to youth from care and generate almost 20% of its annual revenue.
Aunt Leah’s Tree Lots, opening November 23rd in Vancouver, North Vancouver, Burnaby, New West and Coquitlam are the biggest revenue generators for the organization 100% of profits from the sale of the trees goes to support the housing programs. In addition Aunt Leah’s youth gain valuable job experience working on the lots.
“Our customers love the fact that they can help provide housing for vulnerable youth and young moms and babies by just buying a Christmas tree.” says Angelina Oates, Tree Lot Coordinator. “For a lot of families an Aunt Leah’s Christmas tree is a cherished part of their Christmas tradition.”
About Charity Intelligence:
Charity Intelligence researches Canadian charities for donors. Charity Intelligence’s website (www.charityintelligence.ca) reviews and rates over 750 Canadian charities as well as providing in-depth reports on philanthropic sectors like Canada’s environment, cancer, and homelessness.
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