By: Toronto Raptors

    Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet and Rotman Commerce at the University of Toronto announced Monday the creation of the “Fred VanVleet Scholarship,” a new award to support a Black or Indigenous student through their undergraduate degree at the prestigious school.

          The scholarship will provide four years of tuition and books, based on financial need, with preference to a student focused on management.

          “This is to create possibility and light for those who have faced bias, who haven’t had the same chances as others. It’s important to provide opportunities to those who opportunity usually ignores, or works against, or excludes,” VanVleet said. “Academia hasn’t traditionally been an inclusive place for many of us, and so it’s important to make space specifically for people who want to learn, but who are facing barriers that others do not.”

          “Fred sets an example on and off the court, and this scholarship is further evidence of his leadership and his vision,” Raptors Vice-Chairman and President Masai Ujiri said. “I believe the recipient of the Fred VanVleet Scholarship will benefit from not just the support in their education, but their relationship with this incredible person.”

          VanVleet is best known as a professional athlete and an NBA Champion – but he is also an entrepreneur, whose interests include a clothing line and shop, and who hosts a podcast aimed at BIPOC businesspeople, supporting their efforts across all stages of their career.

          “Success looks like whatever you want it to look like, and that may change over the course of your career – both academic and professional,” VanVleet said. “No one expects an 18-year-old kid to know exactly what path they’ll take. But this scholarship will allow that 18-year-old kid to take on experiences and information that will give them the power to shape their own future and decide their own destiny.”

          Alex Edwards, director of the Rotman Commerce program said, “We are so grateful for Fred VanVleet’s leadership and generous investment in future Black and Indigenous leaders. Scholarships not only provide crucial financial support, they also inspire students to challenge themselves and pursue big dreams – within the Rotman Commerce program and beyond.”

In addition to financial support, the scholarship also includes regular, one-on-one mentoring with VanVleet.

          “Mentorship is an important part of this, because you won’t find a lot of the answers in books – or the answers that are there are filtered through an experience and a history that is not yours or that may not even be accurate because of bias,” VanVleet said. “So maybe the answers come through conversations or shared experiences. Mentorship can provide inspiration, too – seeing someone who looks like you, succeeding on their own terms, is huge.”

          To be considered for the award, students must first apply to Rotman Commerce and then complete the Awards Profile by logging into and following the Awards Profile link.