Mastercard Foundation EleV Program Sets Bold Goal with Partners to Support 100,000 Indigenous Youth Through Education and on to Meaningful Livelihoods

French Version


TKARONTO (TORONTO) — OCTOBER 18, 2022 The Mastercard Foundation today announced its goal of reaching 100,000 Indigenous youth through its EleV Program.  Established in 2017, EleV aligns education opportunities with the aspirations of Indigenous youth and the priorities of their communities. It supports young people through post-secondary education and on to meaningful work. To date, the program has already enabled 10,700 Indigenous youth to pursue their educational and career goals.

“The Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation. “Through EleV, we are partnering and co-creating with Indigenous young people and communities to transform education and employment systems based on their visions and values, in ways that revitalize their languages and cultures.”

Indigenous youth are the fastest-growing population in Canada, powerful agents of change for their communities, Nations, and Canada as a whole. According to the National Indigenous Economic Strategy, if Indigenous people have equitable access to economic opportunities, 135,000 more First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people would be employed, bringing in $6.9 billion per year in employment income. There is a moral and economic imperative to enable young people to access their potential to advance autonomy and self-determination.

The Mastercard Foundation’s EleV Program partners with Indigenous-led organizations and higher education institutions, working in close partnership with Indigenous youth and communities, to fundamentally transform education and employment systems. The “V” in the program name itself, co-created with youth and Elders, evokes a flock of migratory geese flying a long distance wherein each member takes a turn in the tiring lead position – a lesson from nature on the power of collaborative leadership in support of community.

“Post-secondary education needs to be built with the same values and understandings shared by Indigenous peoples in order for it to be meaningful and engaging,” said Monika Rumbolt, Youth Engagement Officer Labrador at Ulnooweg Indigenous Communities Foundation, and EleV partner. “It is not just a spiritual thing. It is scientific. Look at arctic agriculture for example. My people – the Inuit – would burn small islands offshore to help promote new growth in berries. They would rotate the ‘crops’ each few years to ensure a healthy harvest. If we want our youth to be successful in post-secondary, to live a good life, we need to give them the same connection they would find from the people and lands.”

Through the EleV Program, the Foundation will invest $500 million and collaborate with more than 45 partners in all regions of the country, working in education, employment, entrepreneurship, and growth sectors identified by Indigenous youth like clean energy, eco-tourism, and digital technology. In addition to Indigenous organizations, EleV partners with institutions working in deep, sustained partnerships with Indigenous communities, such as the University of Lethbridge in Alberta.

“Breaking away from standard approaches can be difficult and even uncomfortable, but it’s essential to finding new ways forward,” said Dr. Michael Mahon, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Lethbridge. “Our deep partnership with the Blackfoot Confederacy allows us to find innovative new ways to support success for Indigenous students across the education system because they know the challenges and the solutions. We’re very pleased the Mastercard Foundation EleV Program helps us strengthen this work.”

The EleV Program National Launch Event is underway today in Toronto, Ontario. The launch is an opportunity to share new approaches, lessons learned, and best practices that are driving changes in policies and actions to support Indigenous youth as well as strengthen and build new Indigenous systems. One of the key lessons the Foundation is taking to governments, policy makers, and the public is that it supports success for Indigenous youth by supporting Indigenous-led innovation. This is what it means to ‘take flight together’.



EleV Event Broadcast

On October 26, 2022, join the Mastercard Foundation’s EleV National Launch as we take flight together with Indigenous youth to support their work, their voices, their visions, and their successes. A 90-minute program will premiere on APTN at 9:00 pm local time, featuring the work of EleV and our partners, the voices of Indigenous youth, and performances by some top Indigenous artists. For more information on the EleV Program, please visit: mastercardfdn.org/elev

The APTN North broadcast will take place the following day at 2:30 pm.


About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. It was established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company. The Foundation is an independent organization, and its policies, operations, and program decisions are determined by its own Board of Directors and senior leadership team. It is a registered Canadian charity with offices in Toronto, Kigali, Accra, Nairobi, Kampala, Lagos, Dakar, and Addis Ababa.

For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org




For more information, please contact:

Candice O’Grady

Partner, Public Affairs and Communications, Canada

Mastercard Foundation



Don Kelly

Head, Public Affairs and Communications Canada

Mastercard Foundation



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