Today, we are especially privileged to have the opportunity to announce the Vistara Elevate Awards. We are making a $100,000, 5-year commitment awarded to students of ethnic and racially diverse backgrounds, who are pursuing their degrees in finance and/or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) – sectors in great need of diversity and inclusion of members of our black, indigenous, and other underrepresented ethnic communities.
Our commitment is threefold:
1. We will be providing a first-year, full tuition scholarship to one student per year who qualifies under the broader Beedie Luminaries program;
2. Equally as exciting and impactful in our view, we are committing to offering, either directly or through our network, a guaranteed paid summer internship to the selected student following their first year of study to assist them in gaining relevant hands-on experience; and
3. To help these students to be best prepared for success as they enter the workforce, our team will also be providing mentorship to the Vistara Elevate Award recipients over their entire 4-year post secondary journey.
Why the Vistara Elevate Awards? And Why Now?
Over the past several months I have reflected on how our society has been evolving (or devolving in several cases) and thought back on what it was like for me growing up in Toronto as a school kid.
For myself, racism reared its ugly head much more so in my earlier school years on the bus and playgrounds where it was commonplace to exclude or ridicule someone based on skin color. I’ve also had time to connect more closely with my brother-in-law, and hear his stories growing up as a young black man in Toronto and some of the injustices and discrimination he faced. As he described to me, recent events “tore off an old scab”, and he has found himself talking to his young sons (my nephews) about how to act and what to say in various situations where they may be presumptively judged based on their skin color.
For some of us, and as generations have progressed, the situation has improved dramatically, and we would humbly suggest this is in a large part due to education. Things got better for me and I began to earn respect from my fellow students and start friendships, through initially being able to help others with their schoolwork. Education can be the great equalizer and liberator in society, and the more examples of ethnically and racially diverse young women and men graduating from universities and becoming leaders in business and in our communities, the more these discriminatory and prejudicial views will become a thing of the past. We truly hope we are no more than one generation away from widespread societal change, if the visceral response we are seeing from young people of all colors to injustices and inequality of opportunity are any indication.
In our province of BC, which has been home to me since 1991, we are blessed to have the amazing Beedie Luminaries program providing post-secondary funding to what will be over 1,000 high school graduates over the life of the program. The $50 million commitment by my friend, and old UBC classmate, Ryan Beedie, has changed and will change the lives of a countless number of young people and the community at large. The program, now in its second year, also continues to display an incredible array of diversity and inclusion for those who would otherwise not be able to afford to access post-secondary education.
With the Vistara Elevate Awards, we hope to recognize, reward, and provide hands-on support to a growing number of students in particular key interest areas, who have faced enormous challenges to get this far, and have demonstrated a desire to elevate themselves further through the pursuit of higher education.
“Vistara” is the sanskrit word for “expansion”. In our world of finance, we think a lot about multiplier effects and return on investment. With this investment in our future, and drawing on inspiration received from other businesses and leaders who are doing their part, our sincere hope is that we can help young women and men expand their scope of opportunities and achieve their full potential, becoming role models to their peers, families, and in the community at large, and have that multiplier effect on future generations to come.
With Gratitude and Hope,
Randy & Team Vistara