Nov 9 2018 - Sou'Wester

Bursary helps parents rise higher

Single parents attending post-secondary benefit from funds

By: Danielle Da Silva
Posted: 11/9/2018 3:56 PM
Originally Published here: The Sou’Wester (by the Winnipeg Free Press)

Single parents wanting to head back to the classroom don’t have to pursue post-secondary education alone.

A recently established bursary program is helping single parents get a leg up on their education by providing financial assistance that can be used for anything from putting food on the table to paying tuition.

Rise Above was founded by Cara Ginter and a group of students at the University of Manitoba in 2015. The Fort Garry local said support for single parents at the post-secondary level was lacking and started the campaign to help alleviate some of the economic pressures that may keep a parent out of school.

Cara said her mom Starla, who now sits on the board of Rise Above as treasurer, had her own struggles accessing post-secondary studies.

"At that time she was a single parent, she had three kids, was working full-time and made enough that she didn’t qualify for government student aid, but not enough that she could actually afford school," Cara said. "There was this in between where she couldn’t. That was something that resonated with me." 

Over the last three years, the startup non-profit organization has issued four $3,000 grants to single parents in the province studying at the local post-secondary institutions.

Data from the 2016 census shows men with an apprenticeship certificate earned 31 per cent more than men with a high school diploma and 11 per cent less than men with a bachelor’s degree. Women with a bachelor’s degree earned around 60 per cent more than women with a high school diploma, according to Statistics Canada.

A post-secondary education can help families move out of poverty and provides an example to children about the value of education, Starla said.

"Impacting those parents and allowing them to go to university will impact generations because their kids are going to grow up with more stability financially, and helping one person helps generations," Starla said.

To qualify for a bursary from Rise Above you must be a single parent with primary custody of your child or children who intends to enrol at, or is already attending, the University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba, or Red River College. Applicants are evaluated based on financial need and selected by the Rise Above board.

Garth Dyer, a director with Rise Above who joined the organization about a year ago, said the funds are remitted directly to the recipient, rather than to the school.

"It’s up to their discretion as to how they use it, because school isn’t the only cost of being in school," Dyer said.

The former Alberta resident said his own mother’s schooling may have been different had a bursary like Rise Above been available when he was a child.

"I was raised by a single mom and I distinctly remember when I was seven or eight years old my mom going to college. I didn’t recognize at the time how hard it was for her to raise myself and my younger brother while going to school," he said.

"In her case, she lost funding partway through her degree and had to give up on her education."

Bursaries awarded so far have been  directly supported by private donations, Cara said, with money being raised through dessert evenings, speaker events and other fundraisers.

On Dec. 15, Rise Above is hosting its first annual holiday craft sale with 45 vendors at the Masonic Temple at 420 Corydon Ave. Admission is $2 with proceeds supporting bursaries. For more information or to get involved go to