Six years ago, Emma found shelter at Covenant House and got to a place in her life where she was ready to pursue a post-secondary education.

But when Emma sought financial support from the government to enrol in a business technology college program, she could not provide the required family income information due to a broken family connection. Without that support, Emma was unable to cover her tuition and other expenses.

Despite her financial struggles, she was determined to continue her education. Emma applied to the Covenant House Toronto’s bursary program.

“Receiving a bursary from Covenant House means so much because it shows that there are people out there who care about me and my efforts,” she said. “Because I can't get support from my family, this bursary has made things easier for me so that I can focus on my studies without always worrying about money. I see it as a helping hand from a caring friend, which motivates me to work even harder and never give up on my goals.”

First piloted in 2021, Covenant House’s bursary program began as an effort to increase youths' access to education, which is proven to be one of the best ways to help stop the cycle of homelessness. The program acknowledges the financial cost of post-secondary education as a huge barrier and works to remove it for as many youth as possible so they can focus on their studies.

The program has been a huge success to date. Now in its third year, the number of applicants has doubled from the year prior. Twenty-six youth received bursaries heading into the school year this fall. The most common programs of study are nursing, early childhood education, computer engineering and social services.

The young people who apply for the bursary program are driven and incredibly grateful to have the support of a caring community to help them reach their goals.

Generous donors who fund our bursaries are an integral part of the program’s success. The late Geoffrey and Edith Wood were Covenant House supporters who believed in helping young people achieve their education and career goals. That is why the Geoffrey and Edith Wood Charitable Fund chose to contribute to this year’s bursary program.

“Mr. and Mrs. Wood were always ready to lend a hand to people who faced challenges in their lives because of poverty, homelessness, mental health issues and other challenging factors,” said Lynn Tughan, donor advisor at the Geoffrey and Edith Wood Charitable Fund. “I believe they would be very pleased to know their support for Covenant House and the young people it supports continues today through the bursary program.”

Youth experiencing homelessness are like any other young person, they have hopes and dreams. Their path to homelessness is often complex. Bursaries clear the path to education and get youth like Emma in the door so that they can start making their dreams a reality.

Those interested in helping a young person achieve their education goals that clear the path towards independent living can contact development manager Susan Westbrook at for details.