“Academia Hasn’t Traditionally Been An Inclusive Place” | Fred VanVleet Launches Scholarship At University Of Toronto

Image Credit: Twitter @BleacherReport screen shot

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet extends the way NBA players make a positive impact in the world.

VanVleet has created an academic scholarship with the University of Toronto to make a path for underprivileged kids who want to go to college and get their dream job.

On Monday, the guard announced the initiative to help underprivileged youth and communities lacking resources and educational opportunities.

VanVleet’s Social Contribution

“This scholarship is important because it’s going to shine light on some of those who may be underserved or underprivileged in certain communities and aspects,” VanVleet said in a video posted to social media.

“We know there’s a selection process to a lot of different scholarships and sometimes that counts people out.”

The scholarship will assist a Black or Indigenous student interested in management. The scholarship comes with four years of tuition at the local university and a $1,000 stipend for books each year.

Making Change in Canada

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

In addition, there’s a bonus one-on-one mentoring session with VanVleet. He hopes it inspires and motivates the fortunate student who also happens to look like him.

“Mentorship can provide inspiration, too — seeing someone who looks like you, succeeding on their own terms, is huge.”

Much Needed Assistance

According to Rotman Commerce, The Fred VanVleet Scholarship “will be awarded to an incoming domestic Black student or Indigenous student based on financial need. Preference will be given to a student with interest in the Management specialist.”

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Academic merit will also be considered for candidates. The award is also renewable based on continued enrollment in the Rotman Commerce program and maintaining good academic standing.

With tuition plus a $1000 stipend for books each year, the scholarship’s value starts at $7,100 for year one and then $16,900 for years two through four. In total, the value of the four-year scholarship for one student is more than $60,000.

The VanVleet Way

VanVleet has been at the helm of a few initiatives for underserved communities in Canada.

This year, he began the “Bet on Yourself” podcast, shining a light on local Canadian Black, Indigenous, and entrepreneurs of color.

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He also partnered with DoorDash and Uninterrupted Canada to launch a docuseries highlighting restaurants and small business owners across Canada.

“Academia hasn’t traditionally been an inclusive place for many of us, and so it’s important to make space specifically for people who want to learn, but who are facing barriers that others do not,” VanVleet said in a statement.

New Rules

VanVleet’s scholarship kicks off a new University of Toronto funding campaign. Called “Defy Gravity,” it is the most extensive fundraising campaign in Canadian history, targeting $4 billion.

The funds are intended to help in various ways. According to a press release, this includes: leading the pandemic recovery, challenging inequity and systemic racism, improving health, powering a clean-tech revolution, sustaining artistic and cultural communities, driving discovery and innovation, and educating the next generation of creative, engaged, and caring citizens through inclusive excellence.

The Illinois native went from being undrafted in 2016 out of Wichita State University to NBA champion and now a changemaker.

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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.