A campaign to raise $20 million for bursaries and scholarships for post-secondary aboriginal students across Canada was launched in Calgary on Tuesday.
Indspire, a national aboriginal education charity, says it has already reached the halfway point in its fundraising goal for the Building Brighter Futures Campaign.
“Certainly Indspire has never had a campaign of this size. And I frankly don't ever recall a campaign like this being taken on in Canada,” said Indspire president Roberta Jamieson at the event, which was held at Bow Valley College.
Donations from corporate, provincial and private partners will be matched — up to $10 million — by the federal government.
The Alberta government is providing $400,000 in funding.
Only 10 per cent of indigenous students graduate from university, compared with 27 per cent of non-indigenous students, according to Statistics Canada.
A lack of financial resources is the number one barrier keeping indigenous students from completing a post-secondary education, according to Indspire.
The campaign has enlisted the support of several high-profile corporate leaders including Steve Williams, president and CEO of Suncor Energy Inc., and David Tuccaro, Indspire board chair and president and CEO of Tuccaro Inc.
“Supporting the education goals of the next generation is also a strategic investment in a workforce that will allow Canada to continue competing globally,” said Williams in a release.
Since it was created in 1985, Indspire has disbursed over $65 million through more than 20,000 scholarships and bursaries to indigenous students — making it the largest funder of indigenous education outside the federal government, the charity says.