A $5-million donation to Western from The Joyce Foundation will offer students facing adversity hope for a promising future. The gift will provide financial and educational support to students who may not otherwise have envisioned attending university.
A portion of the gift will go toward doubling current enrolment in the School Within a University (SWAU) program.
Unique in Canada, SWAU is a partnership between Western and the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB). The program currently allows 25 secondary school students facing challenges the opportunity to experience the university environment and earn credits at both the secondary school and university level. SWAU offers a supportive learning environment with educators, staff and student peers who believe in their potential.
“The Joyce Foundation, Western and the TVDSB share the belief that education is one of the most effective strategies to break the perpetual cycle of poverty and is the foundation of human, community and national development,” said Amit Chakma, Western president and vice-chancellor. “We are very grateful to The Joyce Foundation for its visionary support.”
The donation will support the creation of a second SWAU classroom that will give an additional 25 high school students facing adversity the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education.
In just two years, the program has changed the lives of 45 students, with 83 per cent of SWAU graduates continuing their studies at the postsecondary level.
“When the program began in 2012, we set modest goals,” said Laura Elliott, TVDSB director of education. “We hoped that the majority would finish high school and that about one-third would attend postsecondary school. We’re very pleased that SWAU is exceeding our expectations.”
The gift also establishes bursaries to assist up to nine new undergraduate students annually, with a preference given to eligible students graduating from the SWAU program.
Valued at $5,000 per year, students may receive the bursary for each of their four years at Western or one of its affiliated colleges, meaning up to 36 students will benefit in a given year. The Student Success Centre at Western will also match award recipients with a mentor each year through their Leadership and Mentorship Program.
“Through this gift, we want to ensure that more young Canadians have access to postsecondary education,” said Grant Joyce of The Joyce Foundation. “We are so pleased to be able to help create the opportunity that will provide these students with the skills and confidence to dare to dream of going to university.”
The Joyce Foundation (formerly The Ron Joyce Foundation) is a private, family foundation created by Canadian entrepreneur Ronald V. Joyce. Its primary focus is to provide access to education for children and youth with significant financial need or facing other socio-economic barriers to success.