PORT HAWKESBURY: Helping students is the most important thing this province can do for its future.
As a way to make post-secondary education more accessible by giving students the tools they need to succeed, the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) embarked on a cross-campus, province-wide fundraising initiative – the Make Way Campaign.
Four-and-a-half-years-ago, the college determined the most important thing to help students succeed was by providing increased and broader financial aid.
NSCC Strait Area Campus Principal Tom Gunn said it’s extremely heartwarming for the college to have the support of the community.
“The biggest thing for us at the Strait Area Campus is really the impact it’s having on students’ daily lives, and we’re seeing that every day, whether it’s urgent aid, bursaries, or helping students with transportation,” Gunn told The Reporter following the announcement on April 8. “It’s an incredible outcome, we are very grateful to the generosity of the donors that will help students at our local campus.”
The Make Way Campaign aimed to raise $25 million to support students, through scholarships, bursaries and urgent aid, as well as through extraordinary learning opportunities, leading edge instructional equipment and centres of expertise.
Across the network of 13 NSCC campuses, a total of $33,097,542 was raised. Thanks to the generosity of donors, partners, and supporters, the original fundraising goal of $350,000, was shattered as a total of $496,032 was raised.
“Since the Make Way Campaign began, the students on our campus are just benefitting so much more from it,” Gunn said. “The funds are there to help students graduate and to be successful – so as long as students are really working on their programs, we don’t want the finances to be an impediment for them.”
John Lindsay, a member of NSCC’s Board of Governors and the NSCC Foundation’s Board of Directors, said these funds are already helping students and will continue to do so for decades.
“Not only did Make Way provide financial help, it also gave students the confidence to be able to know they can achieve their goals.”
In 2014, after the college heard about financial challenges that were preventing their students from being successful in their programs, they embarked on their first ever province-wide fundraising campaign. In the beginning, Make Way was fortunate to receive a $4.6 million donation from the Joyce Family Foundation. The campaign launched publically in October 2017, shortly after NSCC received the largest single gift in the college’s history – $6.5 million from the Sobey Foundation.
“I’m a big believer in NSCC, and the life-changing impact it has on its students,” said Rob Sobey, chair of Make Way. “When I was approached about chairing the Make Way Campaign, I felt honoured and excited. I knew it was an amazing opportunity to help NSCC students.”
Bob MacEachern, chair of NSCC Board of Governors and chair for the Strait Area Make Way Campaign, said the majority of the money raised will directly benefit bursaries, scholarships and urgent aid.
“This is so incredibly important, those of us who are in business and have made our way in life, and luckily here in Nova Scotia, you don’t appreciate sometimes what $100 can do for a student who is struggling,” MacEachern said. “It is so significant for us to be able to sit behind a fund like we’ve got now, where we’re able to provide a bit of money for somebody, that could be the difference between continuing their post-secondary education or dropping out.”
Of the $496,032 raised for the Strait Area Campus, $428,000 has been earmarked for that purpose, while $68,000 is specifically directed to the Nautical Institute.
From the level of support shown through the 2,100 donors, over $1.5 million has gone towards leading-edge instructional equipment to ensure students in the classroom are able to transition into the workforce. The college has distributed over $750,000 through their urgent aid fund to over 3,000 students, who over the course of their studies have found themselves in situations of dire need. The NSCC also handed out 5,404 scholarships and bursaries that are valued at over $5 million.