Ben Bengtson, June 7, 2019 (NORTH SHORE NEWS) –

Eighty Metro Vancouver students facing financial barriers, including three from North Vancouver, will each get up to $40,000 from a new scholarship fund which will help pay for their post-secondary education.

West Vancouver resident, real estate developer and philanthropist Ryan Beedie started the Beedie Luminaries foundation last November, with the goal of using the $50-million fund to help remove barriers for students facing financial challenges.

An event honouring the first cohort of 80 students, representing 43 high schools across Metro Vancouver, was held at the Telus World of Science on May 30.

“It was outstanding and very emotional for me,” said Beedie.

While the foundation had originally planned to award scholarships to 50 students, a high number of exceptional candidates meant that this year 80 students will receive scholarships, according to Beedie.

The scholarships are worth $10,000 per year for those students in a four-year undergraduate degree program and $7,500 per year for students in a two-year college or trade-school program.

Beedie, who is the president of the Beedie Group property development company, said he couldn’t help but get choked up when he phoned some of the students in the last few weeks to give them the news they’d be receiving scholarships.

Growing up in Burnaby, Beedie said his family didn’t necessarily face financial challenges, but he saw the way those with means versus those without fared differently.

“Our house was decent, my dad built it, but I had a lot of friends who lived in social housing and people in more challenging sort of circumstances. I saw firsthand growing up what the limitations it can place on people are when they don’t have the funds,” said Beedie.

While selection processes for scholarships are often based on high academic merit, extracurricular activities and volunteerism, the foundation recognized that financial challenges might make it difficult for some applicants to undertake such things, according to Beedie.

Instead, scholarship recipients were mainly chosen “beyond academic merit” by considering “resilience, determination, purpose, empathy and giving back,” according to a release from the foundation.

In addition to funding their post-secondary endeavours, the foundation is also setting up a network of mentors, counsellors, paid internships and other resources that scholarship recipients will be able to access.

The three North Vancouver Beedie Luminaries scholarship winners are Selena Smith, Emma Mendez and Elika Noorizadeh-Leilabadi, who all attended Carson Graham Secondary.

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