The “Pay It Forward!” Scholarship Campaign was born out of three simple ideas: sharing the Canadian Experience, bringing together key stakeholders in the post-secondary learning community, and extending to others the support we ourselves received. It is similar to the very successful Schulich Leader Scholarships Program, Canada's largest Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics oriented program, where 20 Canadian universities each offer two scholarships worth $60,000 and $40,000 each to qualifying students nominated by Canadian high schools across the country.
Five years ago, the Chair of our Advisory Board, Dean Duperron, organized the “Class Canada Act” competition. Students from all over the world could submit a short video stating why they wanted to study in Canada and how their studies would help their communities back home. Anyone with access to the Internet could vote in favor of his or her favorite candidates. Based on these votes, a Selection Committee chose the final ten recipients of scholarships with a value of up to $100,000 CDN each. When brainstorming about possible AST fundraising initiatives, Dean suggested that we re-create a similar program, by asking every Canadian university to offer one tuition-free seat at their institution for a qualifying student, then raising funds to cover living expenses for each of them.
In today’s knowledge-driven economy, where creativity and innovation are at a premium, few other companies are more interested in developing highly-trained and motivated professionals than our financial institutions – and none are better placed to help out with the financing of their education. As good corporate citizens, our banks and credit unions are key stakeholders in the education of young people and in creating strong ties cultural and business ties internationally, to promote prosperity across borders in the Globalisation Era. So we thought that we could pair each tuition-free seat offered by a Canadian university to our students, with a Canadian financial institution sponsorship offering to pay for that student’s living expenses during his or her studies.
Graham Anderson, one of the students who won a “Class Canada Act” scholarship and graduated, four years later, with a BBA in International Business Management, is now our Director of Canadian Operations. He mentioned he wanted to “pay forward” to other students in need the opportunity he himself was given by “Class Canada Act”, without which he could not have completed his education or begun his career as a successful marketing executive, first in Vancouver and now, in Toronto.
And so, the “Pay It Forward!” Scholarship Campaign was born. Graham will lead a Canada-wide campaign to contact all Canadian universities and colleges, as well as all Canadian banks and credit unions. He will explain to them AST’s initiative and ask them to take part in it. We will pair each contributing educational institution with a financial one, so that together, we may offer full scholarships, covering both tuition and living expenses fees, to qualifying students in need from the Greater Middle East who dream to continue their post-secondary studies in Canada.
By connecting AST’s fundraising and networking expertise, universities’ and colleges’ educational programs, and banks and building societies financial resources, we will all “Pay Forward” the many advantages we, Canadians, have benefited from, to young people living in difficult circumstances in one of the regions of the world most in need for highly-skilled young people capable to use their knowledge and experience to built better lives for themselves, their families, and their communities in the spirit of cooperation, respect, integrity and diversity that characterize the Canadian Experience.
We intend to kick-start our Campaign in the first week of September 2014. Should you or your organization be interested to find out more about it, please contact me directly at email@example.com. Your input, help, and contribution will be of great assistance to make out students’ dream of a better education in Canada come true.
Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to “Pay It Forward!”