Telus is giving $120 million through the launch of the Telus Friendly Future Foundation, an independent charitable organization mandated to address the social and economic challenges facing Canada's disadvantaged youth.
The inaugural endowment marks the largest donation made by a publicly traded Canadian company in history, says Telus, and one of the largest ever in North America.
Telus notes that 1.5 million children in Canada go hungry, without access to nutritious food every day; and 350,000 young people are in government care. Lacking the support of a family, they often experience trauma and an isolating transition into adulthood. Further, 30,000 Canadians, many of them young people, are homeless on any given night and lack vital access to healthcare; and 40% of low-income families lack affordable access to the Internet, putting kids at risk of falling behind in school.
"At Telus, we believe that the challenges faced by vulnerable Canadian youth are unacceptable, which is why we are increasing our support of this important group," says Darren Entwistle, President and CEO of Telus. "The Telus Friendly Future Foundation enables even the smallest grassroots charities that are on the front lines in our communities - yet are often overlooked by large corporate donors - to receive funding grants that will be used to help young Canadians build digital literacy skills, provide basic healthcare and mental health support to the homeless, and open up essential educational opportunities.
"In the last two decades," he continues, "Telus, our team members and retirees have contributed more than $1 billion through $530 million in financial support and 1.21 million days of volunteerism, giving with our hearts and our hands to Canadians, yet still, there is so much more to be done. Working with the Telus Community Boards, the Foundation will help to remove barriers and connect our most vulnerable citizens to the resources they need. The potential of these young people is boundless, and it is our responsibility to support and nurture them."
The Telus Friendly Future Foundation complements Telus' existing social-purpose initiatives, including Internet for Good, which offers 30,000 low-income families in B.C. and Alberta access to low-cost, high-speed Internet and a computer, with plans to expand the program this November; Mobility for Good, which provides a free cell phone and data plan to youth who are aging out of the foster care system in B.C., Ontario, and Quebec, with expansion plans into Alberta in November, and Manitoba in February 2019; and Health for Good, which provides healthcare to vulnerable and underserved Canadians through specially-equipped mobile health clinics.
Darren Entwistle, President and CEO, Telus, and the Honourable John Horgan, Premier of British Columbia, with the young adults from Merritt, whose pitch to build a rainbow crosswalk was originally rejected by Merritt Council and received national media attention in their quest for inclusivity.