The Canada Learning Bond (CLB) is a federal grant of up to $2,000 available to children born 2004 or laterwho are living in families with lower incomes. As a kick start to education savings, the CLB can have a powerful transformative effect on families by motivating success in school, improving high-school completion rates and helping students choose a path to post-secondary education and training.
SmartSAVER works with family facing community agencies across Canada to help them teach thousands of families how they can access free money for their children’s future education.
Research demonstrates that even small amounts of education savings improve student achievement, well-being, equity of opportunity and outcomes. In fact, students with as little as $500 in savings earmarked for their education are 3 times more likely to attend post-secondary and 4 times more likely to graduate than those who have none. Post secondary education is a proven avenue toward improved employability and greater social satisfaction.
Across Canada to date, 2.2 million children are eligible for the CLB but, faced with barriers to access, only 3 in 10 are receiving it:
- First, is general low awareness and even fear associated with Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) and the CLB. A child needs an RESP to access the CLB and other federal and provincial grants.
- Second is product confusion. Families are often unaware that RESP products differ by provider and are unable to understand the costs, conditions and potential risks associated with each RESP product.
- Third, the multi-step administrative process required to start an RESP and apply for the CLB and other grants is a powerful deterrent. Easy to understand, unbiased resource information is scarce.
Working backwards, an RESP cannot be registered without social insurance numbers for both parent and child. Getting a social insurance number requires a birth certificate. While an RESP can be started for free, and getting a social insurance number is also free, a birth certificate costs $25 or more!
As a trusted family resource, social service organizations have the power to help eligible children in their community access the CLB by educating families using unbiased resources and by breaking down barriers to access.
SmartSAVER and its’ many partners have developed helpful tools and conducted training and other information sessions with front line workers and families which have helped thousands. Connect with us through our Community Website, designed with community activism in mind, and you can begin transforming lives too.
By Joe March, SmartSAVER Partnership Manager