Foundation facilitates access to education

Westland Foundation awards scholarships to 120 students


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This article was published 12/02/2018 (1642 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.


A local foundation has been working towards making education open to all.

A local foundation has been working towards making education open to all.


Supplied photo John Prystanski (left) believes education can change a person’s perspective on life and awards scholarships for students in need.

On Jan. 30, the Westland Foundation announced it had raised more than $2 million for its education fund. As they continue to grow the fund, they will increase the number of students and the value of the scholarship, said former Point Douglas city councillor and Westland Foundation president John Prystanski.

The Westland Foundation Education Fund was created by Westland Foundation with a goal of sending every single student in inner-Winnipeg to university or college. The program intends to ensure that inner-Winnipeg students are not denied the opportunity for a post-secondary education because of a lack of funds.

Prystanski uses the word “inner Winnipeg” as opposed to “inner city” because it denotes that they are part of the Winnipeg community and a thriving neighbourhood, rather than using a generic term often associated with tough areas.

Alyza Kho is one of the 120 students who received a scholarship for the 2017-2018 academic year, the largest combined so far, totaling $78,500. She said her family wasn’t able to help her pay for university, so she worked up to 32 hours a week last summer to save money for her tuition. She received $500 from the Westland Foundation’s Education Fund.

“Even though it is not a big amount, it helped me,” said the 18-year-old who is in her first year of business administration at the University of Winnipeg. “That money helped me to at least remove some of the money that I had to pay by myself.”

In the early 1990s, Prystanski created the volunteer-run foundation based on what he realized the inner Winnipeg needed: housing and education. They’ve awarded 625 scholarships since 2009.

“It came down to the old habit. If you give someone a fish, they eat for the day. You teach them to fish, and they eat for a lifetime. So we started to focus on education,” he said, adding education changes a person’s perspective on life.

“The first time I realized there was a community outside of where I went to high school, the first time that I realized that this is a big world and that I have an opportunity to access it was when I went to university. And that opened my eyes… It gave me an understanding that through education, I could be a contributing member to more than just my neighbourhood and it made me realize that I could be more than I thought I could.”

Kho, who lives in the Maples, encourages all students to apply for the scholarship, even if they think their grades are not high enough. 

“If you work hard and study hard, something will happen.  I just think it is good to have that post-secondary education so that you can explore more things.”

Westland Foundation Education Fund is available to all inner-Winnipeg students registering at Red River College, the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg.

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