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The Gift of Education

picture of a centennial college student who received a scholarship

Support Centennial's students this GivingTuesday

Money for tuition, books and supplies was on Kimone Lewis’ mind when she opened her email to discover she was a recipient of a $1,000-scholarship made possible by donations collected during GivingTuesday 2018. Instantly, Lewis felt the financial stress decrease as gratitude took over.

“When I saw the email, I was like, ‘You’ve gotta be kidding! People really believe in me enough to want to help me?” says Lewis, a Practical Nursing student. “When you have to worry about money, it takes away focus from school. So, it was amazing to concentrate on exams knowing I didn’t have to stress as much.”

An annual global initiative, GivingTuesday, dubbed the “opening day of the giving season”, is an opportunity to give back to communities through donations of time, resources and talents to address local challenges. At Centennial, which participated for the first time in 2018, GivingTuesday relies on the generosity of donors, especially alumni, to contribute to a scholarship fund recognizing students who encounter serious financial challenges in funding their education.

“Sometimes you wonder if you should miss a class to work a shift to be able to pay for school,” says Lewis. “And once a semester is over, you’re already thinking how you’ll pay for the next one.”

Fiona Bedlington is Centennial’s senior development officer of annual giving and the GivingTuesday lead. She says the College’s participation was groundbreaking and this year’s goal is to build on the campaign’s initial success.

“This was the first digital board scale ask of our alumni, and the response was strong,” she says of the more than $7,000 that was collected and went directly to seven students. “It’s important that Centennial raises awareness about our students’ needs. Over 93 per cent of our domestic students are on financial assistance, and changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program will create greater need.”  

To meet this year’s $15,000-goal, Centennial will hold events, such as a breakfast, in the weeks leading up to GivingTuesday on Dec. 3. It will involve numerous internal departments and external community partners, including TorontoGives, the local chapter of GivingTuesday Canada, while also harnessing social media’s power so donors can contribute online.

Lewis says she still thinks about how donors’ support went well beyond helping her pay for the textbooks she bought with the scholarship money.

“I want people to know their donations have the power to change someone’s semester,” she says. “For me, it created a positive domino effect because it allowed me to focus on exams, maintain my high GPA and qualify for university after I finish my program. So, thank you. Whether you contribute $5, $25 or $100, it ends up making huge difference to a student.”

To learn more and get involved, contact Fiona Ghosh Bedlington via email at fbedlington@centennialcollege.ca or call 416-280-5000, ext. 3558.