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  • Paul Van Nest


Empowering and enriching the lives of young people has always been the core of Service

Above Self for Rotary in Kingston. Youth development programs and services are critical to ensuring their well-being, engagement, and opportunities in our community and beyond.

Several of our Rotary Centennial Projects focus on youth programs and scholarships. These projects may be new, but Rotary in Kingston has provided educational opportunities for several decades. Rotary Bursaries for local secondary school graduates have helped countless students move forward to post secondary schools.

The Robert Wallace Bursary was established by the Kingston club. ‘Bob’ Wallace was the Queen’s University Principal from 1936 to 1951 and a Rotarian for most of those years.

In 1993, a second bursary was established by the Kingston club under then-president Ron Southward, called the Marsh Laverty Bursary. To establish this endowment, a fundraising dinner was hosted for more than 200 people at the Ambassador. Over $20,000 was raised and, with this capital, the bursary was launched.

The Kingston-Frontenac Club has provided an annual bursary or two, depending on available funds, to students at St. Lawrence College over the past 20 years. The club took advantage of an Ontario government matching grant program to help even more students. In addition, for at least the last 40 years, the Kingston-Frontenac Club has provided an annual $500 bursary to each of the five high schools in Kingston’s west end.

In 1999, the Cataraqui-Kingston Club created an endowment fund of $10,000 in memory of Past President Mike Tierney to create an annual bursary for a local high school graduate entering St. Lawrence College. The club has made additional contributions over the years and has grown the endowment to $40,000. This allows the club to support two students each year attending St. Lawrence College.

All of these bursaries are awarded to promising students who are in financial need. Each recipient is invited to our respective clubs and introduced to our membership. We wish we could do more.

Rotary International has also provided very prestigious Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships for university postgraduate students to study programs abroad, and the Rotary Foundation offers scholarships for college graduates and professionals to study peace and conflict resolution through Rotary Peace Fellowships.

While bursaries and scholarships are available to students entering post secondary programs, Kingston Rotary Clubs have embraced the many Rotary International programs that are further enhanced by Rotary District (7040) in Eastern Ontario, Western Quebec, and Northern New York State.

Since its inception, the popular Rotary Youth Exchange program has brought and sent hundreds of secondary students to and from countries around the world. The exchanges provide unbelievable opportunities to live and learn abroad and introduce Rotarians and our communities to incredible young leaders.

Earlyact, Interact and Rotaract programs in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools provide support and opportunities to the next generation of Rotarians. Secondary students can also participate in the Rotary Adventure enrichment programs that focus on Environment, History, High Tech, Citizenship, and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. Each of these youth programs will be highlighted in the weeks ahead.

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