The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute
Children First: School Choice Trust

Children First: School Choice Trust

January 31, 2006 12:15 ET

The Fraser Institute: Media Release; Multi-Million-Dollar Educational Program for Low-Income Families Expands to Alberta

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 31, 2006) - Children First: School Choice Trust announced today that it would offer 50 grants to elementary school children in Calgary for the 2006-07 school year, enabling lower-income families to afford the schools of their choice. Children First is the only program of its kind in Canada, and is administered by The Fraser Institute. Alberta is the second province in which the program is offered.

The grants will pay 50 percent of the tuition at any of the more than 40 independent schools in Calgary, to an annual maximum of $2,500. The median tuition for Calgary independent schools is $4,375 per year. The grants are available from kindergarten and are renewable through grade 6, as long as a family remains eligible. The Fraser Institute plans to offer grants to children in the rest of Alberta in the coming years, as funding becomes available.

"All families should be able to choose the school that is best for their children," said Claudia Hepburn, director of education policy at The Fraser Institute. "Our goal is to help a few of the many families who want educational choice and wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it."

In Ontario, where Children First has been operating for three years, families have submitted 14,000 applications-almost 16 for each available grant. The program anticipates similarly high demand in Alberta.

Grants are based solely on financial need, not academic ability. A family of four will qualify if their household income is less than $41,589; a family of two (single parent with one child) qualifies if their household income is less than $29,458. Eighteen percent of Alberta households with school-aged children are beneath this income threshold.

The program has been funded by a major grant from the Hunter Family Foundation and is supported by several other foundations and individuals.

Children First was established by The Fraser Institute in order to put into practice the growing body of research that shows the benefits of school choice, both for the families who use it and for the education system as a whole. This year, the program enrolls 800 children in Ontario.

Children First won a Templeton Freedom Award for Social Entrepreneurship in 2004 for the program's innovative work helping disadvantaged children gain access to better schools. It is the only Canadian program ever to have won this prestigious international award and was selected from over 140 programs in 50 countries.

Complete program details are available at

Official Media Sponsor: The Calgary Sun

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