Vancouver Charity Combatting Youth Homelessness Selected as One of Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities for the 3rd Year in a Row

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Aunt Leah’s Place has been selected by Charity Intelligence (Ci), for the 3rd year in a row, as one of Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities for 2019.

Social impact is primarily about changing lives, and Aunt Leah’s is very cost-effectively changing lives....

Aunt Leah’s Place, a Metro Vancouver charity providing housing, education, job training and support for youth aging out of foster care and young moms and babies, has been selected by Charity Intelligence (Ci), for the 3rd year in a row, as one of Canada’s Top 10 Impact Charities for 2019.

“We want to thank Charity Intelligence for this recognition and for supporting youth in and from foster care and mothers in need. We have worked hard to respond to the individuals we support with caring and thoughtful programs and projects that reflect their needs and desires.” says Executive Director, Sarah Stewart. “This recognition wouldn’t have been possible without the support we’ve received from our volunteers, donors, partners and staff.”

Charity Intelligence’s rigorous analysis measures the “difference”, or the impact, charities make. Of the 203 Canadian charities that Charity Intelligence analysed for impact, Aunt Leah’s was evaluated as one of the Top 10 Impact Charities in Canada, delivering returns of 7 times for every dollar donated, compared with average returns of 1-2 times on the dollar. Aunt Leah’s is the only charity in BC to be selected for this prestigious award.

According to Greg Thomson, Director of Research at Charity Intelligence, “Social impact is primarily about changing lives, and Aunt Leah’s is very cost-effectively changing lives in two main ways. First, it breaks the cycle of foster care by supporting young mothers and preventing their babies from going into foster care. And second, it helps bridge the gap for kids who “age-out” of the foster system with housing and finding jobs. Charity Intelligence finds Aunt Leah’s to be a High Impact charity.”

A University of Victoria report, Avoiding the Precipice, found that almost half of kids in foster care will experience homelessness when they age out of care at 19. In contrast, the study found that Aunt Leah’s services and supports helped former foster youth avoid homelessness and maintain market housing. The study showed that an average of 86% of Aunt Leah’s participants were safe, independent and in housing. In 2016, 93% of moms leaving the Aunt Leah’s Threshold Program, a unique program that provides housing and support for homeless moms and their children, secured safe housing and maintained custody of their children.

Aunt Leah’s Mom House provided sixteen-year-old Sherry with a home and the support she needed to take care of her infant daughter, Marcella. Now in grade 4, Marcella is thriving and a top student in her class. Sherry was recently accepted to the Native Education College and is chasing her dreams of becoming a family and community counsellor. Her hope is to become an advocate for other young moms and former youth in care.

“Currently, BC’s foster care system is not only a pipeline to future homelessness, but also a pipeline from and back to itself, due to early and unplanned pregnancies. Aunt Leah’s has responded to this crisis by helping young women in need – who we know can succeed when surrounded by supportive allies and resources-- thus preventing another generation of children and babies from entering the system.” says Stewart.

Aunt Leah’s has a long tradition of social entrepreneurship, operating several businesses which both give employment opportunities to youth from care and generate almost 20% of its annual revenue.

Aunt Leah’s Tree Lot, opening November 21st, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. The Tree Lot, with 6 Metro Vancouver locations, is the biggest revenue generator for the organization, with 100% of profits from the sale of the trees going to support the housing programs. In addition, Aunt Leah’s youth gain valuable job experience working on the lots.

“One person, one volunteer, one tree can do a lot to ensure that foster youth don't end up homeless.” says Hope Rayson, volunteer manager. “For 25 years an Aunt Leah’s Christmas tree has been a cherished part of many Vancouver families’ Christmas tradition.”

About Charity Intelligence: Charity Intelligence researches Canadian charities for donors. Charity Intelligence’s website ( reviews and rates over 750 Canadian charities as well as providing in-depth reports on philanthropic sectors like Canada’s environment, cancer, and homelessness.

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Mairi Campbell
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Aunt Leah's Christmas Tree Lot Volunteers