“We operate in a knowledge based world were knowledge and key skill sets are essential in obtaining a decent paying job. Many of us have been able to obtain sufficient skill training to participate in this knowledge based world; however many others face insurmountable barriers in being able to do so. Many are trapped in poverty because they do not have the educational means for breaking out of the cycle. The main obstacle is the lack of financial resources. Funds are required for tuition, course fees, computer equipment, tools, accommodation, food, transportation, day care, previous debt payments, etc. Any combination of these can present barriers that will continue to prevent the person from ever being able to obtain the education or training they need to obtain a decent job. With a low paying or part time job or no job at all they will continue to scrape by with a mere existence trapped in a world of poverty.
“ONRC has recognized that fundamental systemic change is required in these cases to break out of the cycle and have decided to direct some of their funds to help in the way of a new program called “The Ozanam Education Fund”. The objective of the program is simply “to provide funding to our friends in need to help them escape the cycle of poverty”.
“The program works on a referral basis. Our Vincentian members identify situations where individuals are struggling to obtain further education or training needed to obtain a decent job. This may be expenses for attending University, College, Trades training or other skills training. The expenses may be in the form of tuition, course fees, requisite equipment, tools, accommodation, food, transportation, day care, or other expenses needed to get the training. The program promotes taking an overall review of the personal funding capability for the person in need. The Fund application and the associated worksheet are laid out to assist in this assessment.
“The applications are submitted by the Vincentian to the Fund committee for review. Review is made by the committee on a periodic basis making awards to the applicants as best as they can with the limited funds available. When awards are made the funds are “passed down” to the appropriate SSVP conference for local administration of the funds (paying bills).
“Although the program is new and just got formally launched in the Fall of 2012 there is a great enthusiasm for the program and we feel it is an ideal fit with our SSVP Systemic Change work, providing high impact results. Our Vincentians working with our Neighbours in Need are in a good position to understand their situation and their needs for education and can collaborate with them in making the fund applications. Our SSVP organization has a structure and process that allows funding to be passed between councils and conferences enabling funding to be directed to where it is needed. This same structure allows donors/ conferences/ councils to donate funds to the Ozanam Education Fund.
“The program is coordinated by our ONRC Systemic Change Project Committee and operates within the existing Council/ Conference frame work in Ontario. Investing in people’s education/ training in order to get them out of poverty is one of the best investments we can make and is certainly a worth while systemic change for the individual involved.
“For any further background on this program contact our ONRC (Ontario Regional Council) Systemic Change Project Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org