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Some real class acts

Scholarship funds have diverse origins

One bursary fund was put together by former students at a local high school to help the low-income students who graduate decades after them get the leg up they need to continue their education past high school.

Another fund was created simply because a renowned professor at a local university won a large cash award honouring his career and decided to help future students he would teach.

And another was to remember two friends who never got a chance to realize their own post-secondary dreams.

But there is one common thread with all of these and the 317 other funds that produce cash scholarships and bursaries: they have all decided the Winnipeg Foundation is the best place to handle the award money now and forever.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/9/2011 (2210 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

One bursary fund was put together by former students at a local high school to help the low-income students who graduate decades after them get the leg up they need to continue their education past high school.

Another fund was created simply because a renowned professor at a local university won a large cash award honouring his career and decided to help future students he would teach.

FROM LEFT: Lotfollah Shafai of the Dr. Lotfollah Shafai Engineering Award Fund, Allison Shiach of the Kristin and Robbie Schaldemose Scholarship Fund and Dave Hammerback of the Elmwood High School Legacy Fund.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

FROM LEFT: Lotfollah Shafai of the Dr. Lotfollah Shafai Engineering Award Fund, Allison Shiach of the Kristin and Robbie Schaldemose Scholarship Fund and Dave Hammerback of the Elmwood High School Legacy Fund.

And another was to remember two friends who never got a chance to realize their own post-secondary dreams.

But there is one common thread with all of these and the 317 other funds that produce cash scholarships and bursaries: they have all decided the Winnipeg Foundation is the best place to handle the award money now and forever.

The scholarship and bursary funds have more than $21 million endowed, which enables a total payout of about $1.28 million.

Jennifer Litchfield, the foundation's donor relations co-ordinator, said people have to invest a minimum of $10,000 to set up a scholarship fund.

 

Elmwood High School Legacy Fund

Linda Boughton, a member of the class of 1961-62 at Elmwood High School, never would have thought that 50 years later she would be helping the high school she graduated from.

But since Boughton, Dave Hammerback and others banded together, they have been able to raise almost $80,000 and they have their sights set on $100,000.

And with that much money invested with the Winnipeg Foundation, they have also been able to hand out a few thousand dollars so far, with the first year consisting of three $700 bursaries, three $800 ones the next year, three $900 ones this year, and the hope of four $1,000 bursaries next year.

"We're like the little engine that could," laughs Boughton. "Because we're using an endowment fund, this is the gift that keeps on giving. It's the longevity of this that means so much to me.

"And it's great we can help Elmwood students. Elmwood now is different than the Elmwood I was in. The children are in greater need."

Hammerback agreed saying, "We have a very soft spot in our hearts for that area.

"We know it is a tough area. It's great that we alumni can help the students facing adversity."

Boughton said the idea of the bursary fund was created after members of the 40th anniversary organizing committee saw how quickly funds raised disappeared into worthy projects.

To help raise money, the group is holding a Bud, Spud and Steak night on Oct. 14 starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Transcona Canad Inn. For tickets call Terry at 792-4151.

 

Dr. Lotfollah Shafai Engineering Award Fund

Lotfollah Shafai, the Canada Research chair in applied electromagnetics at the University of Manitoba was recently honoured with the 2011 Killam Prize.

Shafai is credited with inventing the satellite-phone system with compact antennas that many television journalists use when reporting from far-flung areas of the globe, and which is used for telemedicine, smart vehicles and navigation systems.

The prize came with a cash award of $100,000, but Shafai said he and his family decided to put the money where it could have the most effect — his students.

"We wanted 100 per cent of it to go back into the students," Shafai said.

"I was one of those students in need. When I came to Canada to study in Toronto I only had $35 in my pocket. It was very challenging to go through."

Shafai said the University of Toronto helped him with grants so now he has decided to give back to students.

"Students are our future and they are the reason I am at the university. I work with students. My wife said you work with students so you should give them it."

Shafai put $45,000 into a fund at the Winnipeg Foundation, to create the Dr. Lotfollah Shafai Engineering Award Fund. With a provincial program to augment bursaries given for economic need, it jumped up to more than $66,000. He also put a chunk of his award into the University of Manitoba itself to create a bursary there.

 

Kristin and Robbie Schaldemose Scholarship Fund

Robbie and Kristin Schaldemose were like many other Winnipeg young adults. They went through elementary, junior and high school here. They enrolled into university here. And they had dreams of what they might do in future.

The pair also lived with cystic fibrosis.

Sadly, Robbie succumbed to the illness in 2003 at age 22, while his sister died in 2006 at age 21.

But their fellow former Fort Richmond Collegiate classmates thought so highly of them that they decided to honour them by creating the Kristin and Robbie Schaldemose Scholarship Fund.

Allison Shiach and Khalie Lasuik had known both siblings since grade school, but they were close friends of Kristin, who was in the same grade.

Shiach said they saw the physical and medical challenges the siblings faced as they juggled courses, exams and projects like every other student.

That made it easy for the pair to determine the criteria for the scholarships.

"It's for a graduating student at Fort Richmond," Shiach said.

"But it has to be for someone who has had to overcome challenges in life and still remains positive, contributes to society and plans to go to post-secondary."

So far, there have been three scholarships awarded, the first in 2009. Almost $1,000 has been paid out in awards.

"(Kristin and Robbie) were both really giving people," Shiach said.

"Kristin would be happy to know she was leaving something lasting to help others."

 

The first scholarship the Winnipeg Foundation received was the Margaret Scott Nursing Mission Scholarship. It was established by the Margaret Scott Samaritan Club in 1946 and continues to be awarded at the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Nursing.

According to records kept at the foundation, Scott, who was born in 1856, came to Winnipeg after her husband died and soon became the city's best stenographer. Volunteering at a local church, she organized a place to assist "wayward" girls. She was also instrumental in having district nursing added to the nurses' training program.

Nurses inspired by her work created the nursing mission in her name to give nursing care to the needy. The mission later became the Samaritan Club and when it was discontinued in 1946, the funds were transferred to the Winnipeg Foundation to create the scholarship. This year, the fund paid out $1,500 in awards.

Litchfield said one of the main benefits of having a fund at the Winnipeg Foundation is the foundation's own longevity — it was created in 1921 — because sometimes not only does the fund outlive the people who created it, it also can outlive its beneficiary.

"We had one fund for students at Silver Heights Collegiate, which closed," she said.

"Luckily that family was still around, but for others we get agreements when it is created that if the school closes or changes its catchment area, we will review the award and where it should go."

 

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Read more by Kevin Rollason.

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