On Monday, Fred Vanfleet, point guard for the Toronto Raptors and University of Toronto Rotman Business Program, announced the Fred Vanfleet Scholarship, “a new award to support a black or Aboriginal student through their undergraduate degree at the prestigious school.”
The scholarship will support a business-focused undergraduate student by providing them with four years of education, books, and mentorship from VanVleet himself. It will be based on financial need and academic merit, with preference given to a student focused on management.
“This is to create possibility and illumination for those who have faced prejudice, who have not had the same opportunities as others. It is important to provide opportunities to those who opportunities would normally ignore, work against or exclude them.” “Academia has not traditionally been an inclusive place for many of us, and so it is important to provide a private space for people who want to learn, but face barriers that others do not.
“No one expects an 18-year-old to know exactly which path they will take. But this scholarship will allow an 18-year-old to gain experiences and information that will give them the power to shape their future and determine their destiny.”
As Raptors Vice President and President Masai Ujiri said: “Fred sets an example on and off the court, and this scholarship is further evidence of his leadership and vision. I believe that the Fred Vanfleet scholarship recipient will benefit not only from support in his education, but his relationship with this wonderful person.”
This is not the first VanVleet initiative aimed at helping blacks and indigenous peoples in Toronto and beyond. Residents of Rockford, Illinois, own several buildings in his hometown and have a thriving clothing line. VanVleet also donated autographed memorabilia for auction to Rockford Promise, a non-profit organization that has raised more than $1 million for college scholarships for area youth. In Toronto, VanVleet recently partnered with Penny Appeal Canada to distribute 1,000 personalized student backpacks throughout the Greater Toronto Area. He also collaborated with UGG on a campaign shot and directed entirely by local BIPOC youth.
VanVleet recently created a podcast with his financial advisor Derek Folk bet on yourself, They help “struggling or up-and-coming BIPOC entrepreneurs to shape, renew, and sometimes completely re-launch their businesses.”
While VanVleet is constantly offered endorsement partnerships and deals, he says it’s important for people of color to be involved in any initiative he takes.
“It’s just something I’m excited about. You know, we have to focus on the next generation and one of the ways to do that is to connect again, to attract them, to give opportunities to people who deserve and deserve so much, but we probably won’t get that opportunity because of their background or their age,” he told VanVleet Complex in a recent interview. “I think it’s important to bring people with you and be firm about the people you choose to work with.”
To be considered for the Fred VanVleet Scholarship, students must first apply to Rotman Commerce and then complete an awards file by logging in to Join.utoronto.ca and following the awards file link.