Brian Haier is flanked by the recipients of the TD Financial Group donation. Each Ryerson student received a $2,500 donations for being the first one in their family to attend post-secondary education.

Photo courtesy of University Advancement

TD invests $450,000 in first generation students

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By Anna Czerny

Last December 36 Ryerson students received $2,500 each just for coming to school.

The lucky scholars were recognized by TD Financial Group for being the first ones in their families to attend post-secondary education.

TD Financial Group and Ryerson worked together to decide where the $450,000 donation from one of Canada’s largest banks should go.

Both say it was an obvious choice.

“We wanted to get away from funding bricks and mortar and put that money into developing students,” said Meredith Wiens, associate vice president of community giving at TD.

The bank will dole out the $450,000 over the next five years, with 36 recipients from Ryerson each year.

Wiens said TD has been contributing to university and college capital campaigns for a long time, but only started directing that money specifically to students in 1997.

This year, TD chose students who are in financial need, wrote a letter explaining how the scholarship would further their studies and, of course, those who are the first in their family to go to university. An 80 per cent average was also required for consideration.

Bruce Hurley, campaign director of university-wide initiatives at Ryerson, said the scholarships are important because they open up additional opportunities for first generation university students and provide an example to members of the community.

TD created the bursaries to make higher education more accessible to children of first-generation Canadians.

“We support human capital, so what better way to give than through students,” said Wiens.

TD isn’t the only major Canadian bank giving money to Ryerson this year. Ryerson also received $700,000 from Scotiabank for international scholarships in October, and in November Royal Bank donated $750,000 to create a Ryerson institute for Disability Studies Research and Education.

Ryerson solicited the donations as part of a fundraising campaign called Invest in Futures. The five-year campaign, now in its first year, expects to raise about $100 million.

The campaign is currently in the quiet phase, said Hurley.

“We’re waiting to reach at least the halfway mark before going public with requests for donations,” Hurley said.

Right now, TD is happy to have kick-started Ryerson’s campaign, by contributing in something more substantial than another school building.

“We wanted to encourage first generation students to go on in their education,” said Wiens. “Sometimes there’s something holding them back and we didn’t want it to be money.”

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