Fred VanVleet — the Toronto Raptors’ point guard — has partnered with Rotman Commerce to introduce the Fred VanVleet Scholarship. This scholarship will be awarded to a Black or Indigenous incoming domestic first-year Rotman Commerce student on the basis of financial need. 

“This scholarship is important because it shines light on some of those who may be underserved or underprivileged in certain communities and aspects,” VanVleet said in a YouTube video posted by Rotman Commerce. 

Empowering Black and Indigenous students 

In an email to The Varsity, Alexander Edwards — the acting director of Rotman Commerce and an associate professor of accounting — wrote that the Toronto Raptors reached out to Rotman Commerce for this partnership

“[The Raptors] wanted to make an impact in the space that was important to them and Fred VanVleet, and inquired about scholarship opportunities. The conversation progressed from there,” wrote Professor Edwards. “The scholarship creates an opportunity for an incoming student that they will benefit from throughout their degree.”

In the YouTube video, VanVleet acknowledges that there is a selection process for the scholarships that academic institutions offer and that sometimes those processes count people out. “We’re just trying to make a concerted effort to shine light on those who may have not gotten a proper opportunity,” he said. 

VanVleet has also committed to acting as a mentor to the recipient of the scholarship. “Time goes on, and you realize how important it is just having somebody in your corner who can guide you, give you that reassurance or direction in certain areas that you may need to improve,” he said. 

Logistics of the scholarship

The scholarship will be awarded on the basis of financial need, and preference will be given to students who express interest in the management specialist program. Prospective domestic students who want to be considered must first apply to Rotman Commerce, and the recipient of the scholarship will continue to reap its benefits as long as they stay in the Rotman Commerce program in good academic standing. Applicants who have leadership experience, are involved in their school and community, and are good team players are strong candidates for the scholarship.

The scholarship is valued at $57,800, and includes an annual stipend of $1,000 for textbooks. The amount allocated to the student will increase after the first year to cover the higher tuition fees charged to upper-year Rotman Commerce students. The recipient will also have the opportunity to receive one-on-one mentoring with VanVleet himself. 

Creating life-changing opportunities

Edwards acknowledged the impacts that financial support can make on a student’s future. “Access to education has the ability to change someone’s life. This generous investment provides an opportunity for an incoming Black or Indigenous student to take hold of their future through the power of education and mentorship,” he wrote.

He also acknowledged the importance of fostering an inclusive and diverse space at Rotman Commerce. “Providing the opportunity for future Black and Indigenous leaders to learn, grow and become involved in community enriches the Rotman Commerce community by helping to establish an inclusive and representative space,” wrote Edwards, expressing his gratitude to both VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors. 

“I would love for this scholarship to be the catalyst to start a young person’s career — [to provide the] platform that they need to get access to the resources, information and education. Hopefully they go on to do many bright and important things,” said VanVleet.