Three separate Sobey foundations are donating a total of $6.5 million to the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) system.

The largest $4-million contribution came from the Donald R. Sobey Foundation, which will be used to create student bursaries across the province for those who may face barriers to accessing post-secondary education.

A total of 80 bursaries worth $2,000 each will be awarded annually.

"We just want to break down some barriers," said Rob Sobey. "It's too compelling to ignore."

The first awards are expected to be announced in January. 

A number of organizations will be asked to submit the names of potential students, including: 

  • Pathways to Education.
  • PeopleWorx (Annapolis Valley).
  • United Way of Halifax.
  • Phoenix Youth Programs.
  • Hope Blooms.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs (Halifax, Truro & Colchester, Sydney).

In a statement released by the NSCC, the director of operations for the Truro and Colchester Boys & Girls Club agreed that finances are often a main barrier to post-secondary education.

"We watch them grow up, and we know that, in many cases, they aspire to higher education. This is a wonderful opportunity for our club to help young people achieve their dreams," said Joanne Thibeau, 

The Sobey Foundation will donate $2 million to the six campuses across the province that provide culinary arts programs, to be used for the purchase of specialized equipment, as well as student bursaries.  

A third donation was made in memory of Doe and Bill Sobey; $500,000 will go to student bursaries for those who attend NSCC's Marconi and Pictou campuses.

The donations collectively represent the largest charitable contribution made to NSCC in its 20-year history, the college says.