Donor Story

Mary McGivern Nurtures Youth Empowerment with the Bright Futures Education Fund

19 November 2021

Story by Stacey McLachlan

Illustration by Maria Nguyen

She may have retired from her work in the non-profit sector, but Mary McGivern can’t help but help. And with her Bright Futures Education Fund, which finances post-secondary education for young women in need, she’s doing just that. “In my last year before retirement, I started to think about what I could do in retirement aside from helping other non-profits,” she recalls. A conversation with Nicole Jeschelnik (a Manager of Donor Services at Vancouver Foundation) got her wheels turning, and soon, the mother of three found herself with a rare opportunity to make an indelible and direct impact on others’ lives — not just through charity, but through empowerment.

With the help of Bright Futures, current mentees of Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland who might otherwise be unable to finance a post-secondary education, have the chance to pursue their schooling goals and, McGivern hopes, carve a new path for themselves. “Education is the most important thing,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to break out of the rut and set themselves in careers where they make a good living and have choice.”

For McGivern, providing funding to young women with financial need is a way to redistribute wealth and change the cycle of poverty. Vancouver Foundation helps with guidance and administration, but with a donoradvised fund, McGivern and her husband can advise on how the money is used.

“So many [girls] want to tackle big programs, so many are impressive young women,” she says. “But they don’t always have family support — and we have a soft spot for those ones, too.” Though McGivern’s fund may be modest, she’s still making an unforgettable impact, one student at a time (that’s seven per year, to be exact). Using her retirement time and her resources to make a difference has been everything McGivern hoped it would be. “We added a little bit to the fund this year, and we’re considering extending it so we can sponsor a few young, single moms, who might otherwise not have a chance to gain an education,” she says. “We’re so blown away by these girls.”

Want to start giving back like Mary? Learn more about starting a donor advised fund with Vancouver Foundation.

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