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‘Life-changing’: $80,000 scholarship being given to six CBE grads

Class of 2023 graduates are going to get the opportunity of a lifetime, through what EducationMatters is calling a life-changing student award worth up to $80,000.

The Investing in the Future Award will be given to six Calgary Board of Education students with $20,000 per year of post-secondary schooling for up to four years, being given to eligible grads.

Students will be chosen based on financial need, are planning on attending a Canadian post-secondary institution, and on a 500-word essay or two-minute video describing the “the impact on their lives and the impact they hope to have on the world should they receive this opportunity.”

“We have a lot of students that we talk to every year that are not only going to school full time, they’re holding down in a lot of cases a full time job to help pay for the family’s rent, to make sure that they’re buying food,” said Helen Nowlan-Walls, Director for Donor and Community Engagement for EducationMatters.

“It really is for whatever they need.”

The funding for the students has been provided by an anonymous donor to EducationMatters, who simply wanted to help ensure that students have better futures.

“It’s a wonderful generous Calgarian who is not not looking for glory whatsoever, and just quietly wants to help in the background,” Nolan-Walls said.

Students can apply for the Investing in the Future Award at www.educationmatters.ca/systemwide_awards/investing-in-the-future-award.

Not the only scholarships available

Nowlan-Walls said that while the large scholarship is limited, EducationMatters has other scholarships for students based on financial need, academics, athletics, and music.

“It’s like, there literally is something for everyone there. They just need to go and have a look,” she said.

As for the $80,000 scholarship, she said that everyone has a shot. No student should be afraid of trying to apply, because that will also give them opportunities to be awarded the other scholarships that the charity provides.

“Once we hit March, we’re going to have a bunch of other awards open up to to apply for,” Nowlan-Walls said.

“You don’t get you don’t get it if you don’t try, and it is always worth putting the putting the application in and seeing what comes back because you never know.”

EducationMatters provides more than $500,000 in student awards each year. A full listing of those awards is available at www.educationmatters.ca/students/system-wide-awards.

20 years of service towards enriching public education in Calgary

This year also marks the 20th anniversary for EducationMatters, which was formed in 2003.

In celebration of that milestone, the charity is launching a pair of new funds that will aim to alleviate some of the issues surrounding student achievement, and mental health and wellness that have cropped up during the pandemic.

The EducationMatters Legacy Student Award will be given to an outstanding student selected from the year’s overall list of student award applicants.

The second fund, the EducationMatters Legacy Mental Wellness Fund is designed to ensure that schools have greater access to resources needed to address student mental health and wellness.

“We were looking for ways that we can be incredibly nimble to the needs of students. And right now someone comes to us with a project and says, ‘hey, kids need X,’ I go out and start talking to donors and making those headways, but it often takes six to 12 months,” said Nowlan-Walls.

“When we come to mental wellness, it’s too late. We need to be able to be way more nimble and responsive.”

The endowment fund will be built in perpetuity rather than for specific projects, so that funds can be immediately used towards school projects.

“We can never quite predict what kids need in a way of wellness, so at this point we can go in and do some prevention stuff, as well as some targeted things that’s even better,” Nowlan-Walls said.

Calgarians encouraged to support their local schools

Nowlan-Walls said that Calgarians don’t have to make a big donation to make a big difference.

“Supporting your local school is always a great way to do that,” she said.

People can donate a quick $5 or $10 directly to their school of choice via the EducationMatters website, or through their text to donate system.

Calgarians wishing to give a little bit more, they have the opportunity to set up their own scholarship funds through EducationMatters.

“If anyone’s ever interested in contributing to one of those or setting up their own scholarship, it certainly doesn’t have to be $80,000 a year. We have scholarships that give out $500, $1000 every single year to different students,” Nowlan-Walls said.

“So, any Calgarian who’s in mood for going in and either creating their own granting fund or creating their own scholarship, we can always help with figuring out that and figuring out how it would work.

“There’s so many ways to help students, and honestly, it’s a great investment. If we get these students in a good place right now, it’s something that’s going to pay us back in dividends.”