Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: How Student Support is Supporting Economic Mobility

    Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: How Student Support is Supporting Economic Mobility

    Economic mobility is a term used to describe the ability to move up the income ladder over time, and has been a historically persistent struggle for low-income individuals and families. In Canada, difficulties surrounding economic mobility are especially dire for low-income students who need to meet academic demands while supporting themselves throughout the year.

    A study published by Statistics Canada in 2018 found that children born to low-income families in Canada have a 16.7% chance of reaching the top 20% of earners as adults. However, this varies by province, with the highest rates of intergenerational income mobility found in Quebec and the lowest rates in Alberta.

    Enter Student Support, a for-profit social enterprise focused on breaking the cycle of poverty and economic inequality by making services accessible and affordable to students across the nation. The organization, founded by recent university graduates Ajamu Attard, Scott Braddon and Brent Colby, provides services to students from Udemy, Calm, Aaptiv and Nimbus Learning for a fraction of the cost. 

    Student Support’s mission is to make essential services accessible to students regardless of their background or income.

    The National Director and CEO of Student Support, Ajamu Attard himself, experienced poverty as a high school student and understands the struggles that low income students face.

    Attard himself decided during his victory lap at high school that he wanted to break the cycle in his own life. Struggling with finances and with a difficult family situation, he began getting involved in the community, and was uplifted and supported by peers and staff at his school.

    “I had a lot of teachers and staff members take extra time out of school to literally support me,” says Attard, fondly recalling the support he received from the people around him when he needed it the most.

    Now, Attard has set out to do the same for others, and with his fellow co-founders, Student Support aims to show major corporations the benefits of providing their services to students at affordable rates. This is a win-win situation for both students and service providers.

    The team at Student Support believe that all organizations are responsible for promoting a democratic, fair, healthy and sustainable economy and society, which are the principles their entire organization is founded upon.

    Many organizations later decide to develop a strategy to positively influence their communities, but it has always been Student Support’s mission since their inception to affect positive change. Student Support was started with students in mind, because each of the co-founders experienced the hardships of being a student. 

    Ajamu Attard faced poverty before his transition into university, Brent Colby suffered a skiing injury, and Scott Braddon, who used to be a nationally acclaimed sprint kayaker, suffered several bouts of acute pancreatitis. The symptoms were so bad that his health insurance refused to cover the cost, and he had to be sent home from Florida while he was training.

    “During that time of being sick, I just had to direct my energy – my mental energy – to something else. And that ultimately led to getting involved with the Ajamu and Student Support.”

    Each of the co-founders met at Carleton University, and bonded over a shared vision and a passion for helping fellow students. Rather than letting life’s hardships get in the way of their vision, they combined their experiences and knowledge, launching Student Support in 2021.

    Today, the three of them, along with a group of Student Support employees strive to make learning easier on students, supporting them through valuable resources so that they can focus on what matters most – their academic careers and finding the career path that resonated with them.

    Through their efforts, the dedicated team at Student Support is making a significant impact on the economic mobility of students, providing them with the tools and support they need to succeed academically and professionally.  By removing barriers and creating a more equitable and inclusive learning environment, the team at Student Support ensures that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background, have the opportunity to achieve their full potential and climb the ladder of economic success. 

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