B.C. developer awards first wave of scholarships from $50-million fund
Nick Eagland, (THE PROVINCE) – Ryan Beedie’s fund gives up to $40,000 to 80 “Beedie Luminaries” who would otherwise face financial barriers to post-secondary education.
Ryan Beedie has given 80 local students facing financial barriers a major leg up with the first wave of scholarships from a $50-million fund set up by his new foundation.
The B.C. real estate developer and philanthropist launched the Beedie Luminaries foundation last November, pledging to use the scholarship fund to help remove barriers for “resilient” students who have great financial need, and support their long-term success.
The first cohort includes 80 students from 43 high schools across Metro Vancouver, who will each get up to $40,000 toward their post-secondary educations. Beedie met them Thursday night during an event at the Telus World of Science.
Beedie, 50, said Thursday that he was thrilled to be “affecting the lives of these people in a profound and meaningful way.”
He phoned a portion of the students in recent weeks to give them the good news. His first call was to a girl from his alma mater, Moscrop Secondary School in Burnaby, an “awesome” teen who just needed a “leg up.”
Beedie couldn’t help but get choked up while they were on the phone, he said.
“It completely validated what we’re doing,” Beedie said. “The family moved from Africa a few years ago and the dad moved back. They relied on food banks and she works at the grocery store I worked at when I was in Grade 12.”
Beedie said that while growing up he had many friends who lived in single-parent homes and in social housing, facing challenges he didn’t face. For some, poverty was a barrier to post-secondary education, he lamented.
“I really don’t think the circumstances you’re born into should limit your capacity and ability to grow,” he said.
“It’s one of the things I like about Canada versus the U.S. We do have more social mobility in this country — we could have more of it, for sure — but I think it’s really important giving people a leg up.”
The foundation considered weighing volunteerism and other extracurricular activities in its selection process, but recognized that for many applicants, hardship prevented them from doing such things, Beedie said.
“The people we’re targeting are more so from challenging financial circumstances, where they don’t really have the luxury of time to be doing that when they’re trying to get money just for the family to make rent,” he said. “These are very compelling stories of adversity and we’re really happy that we’re going to be there to support them.”
Students were selected based on “their resilience, determination, empathy and purpose, as well as academic readiness,” according to the foundation.
It had planned to give the first scholarships to 50 students, worth a total of $10,000 a year for those in a four-year undergraduate degree and $7,500 a year for those in a two-year college or trade-school diploma. But selecting from 200 applications was challenging so, this year, 80 students will get scholarships. Beedie hopes to someday expand it to 100 students across the province.
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