Record Number of CCAWR Scholarships Awarded for 2020

September 4, 2020

Letter from the CCAWR Scholarship Committee

The Canadian Caribbean Association of Waterloo Region (CCAWR) scholarship program has been around for the past 17 years. Its mission is to promote academic excellence and foster leadership while providing some financial assistance to young people of Caribbean heritage within the Waterloo Region. The hope is to provide these young people with a helping hand to assist them achieve their academic dreams at university, college or another post-secondary institution.

As a scholarship committee, we were a bit nervous this year with the potential impact from COVID-19 pandemic. With schools on-line, we were unable to do any direct outreach to high school or university students as we had in the past, which limited our ability to market the scholarship program in general. In addition, we were also unsure how fundraising efforts would be received with a down turn in the economy as a result of the pandemic. Nevertheless, the CCAWR in conjunction with the Congress of Black Women of Waterloo Region worked collaboratively to see how we could connect with students through different channels.

Given the circumstances it would have been fair to believe that we would not be able to provide as much support in 2020 as in previous years. However the opposite happened, particularly on the fundraising side. With the heightened awareness of the public to the recent racial incidents and issues in the US and Canada, many were willing to donate to our cause.

I must specially thank our local community this year, as they really stepped up tremendously to support the CCAWR scholarship program. There were many individual donors and for the first time we saw a number of local organizations making donations for the first time, including: The Charcoal Group, Raffi Jewellers, YH Jewelry, Modern Thrift Collective and the African Community Wellness Initiative.

Despite the limited means to market the program, this year saw the strongest pool of students apply for scholarships that the committee can recall. With solid fundraising, the CCAWR scholarship program was  able to fund 8 scholarships, from a total of 18 applications. This is the most the Scholarship Program had ever done. Six of those students will be attending University of Waterloo or Wilfred Laurier.  Our partner, the Congress of Black Women- Waterloo Region, was also able to fund 4 scholarships.

The CCAWR scholarship program started in 2003, some 17 years ago and is run by a volunteer committee. Each year we try to raise the bar by increasing scholarship amounts or more scholarship awards. We have awarded 64 scholarships so far.

As Chair of the CCAWR Scholarship Program, I am really delighted at the way things have turned out in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.  The quality of the students receiving our scholarships is extremely high and this illustrates that we have quite a number of bright talented young minds of Caribbean heritage in our community. As an association, we are more than happy to support them in their pursuit of their chosen career and academic dreams.

Nigel Henriques

Chair, CCAWR Scholarship Committee