Canadian society needs to invest in leadership, not just academics

    Re: Millennium Foundation

    TORONTO, Feb. 27 /CNW/ - Unnoticed in yesterday's budget announcement is
the termination of an innovative undergraduate merit scholarship program run
by the Millennium Foundation. Unlike most merit scholarships, which are
granted simply on the basis of academic performance, Millennium's merit
scholarships defined merit more broadly to include serving the community and
    "There is too much emphasis on one-time cheques granted to students on
the basis of their marks, and not enough on qualities that don't show up on a
transcript such as character, service and leadership potential," says
Franca Gucciardi, executive director & CEO of the Canadian Merit Scholarship
    The federal government has a long history of giving merit-based
assistance to graduate students, primarily through the three granting
councils, and the Vanier Scholarships are a wonderful continuation of this
tradition. In contrast, the Millennium Foundation's merit program was the only
public national investment in talented undergraduates, accounting for
$12.6 million of the $200 million invested through merit scholarships annually
in Canada. It will disappear in 2009.
    Investments in graduate studies should not come at the expense of strong
investment in undergraduate students. As a society, we need to devote more
resources, not less, to ensuring that the next generation of Canadian leaders
have opportunities to fully realize their potential.
    "As Canadians we understand the importance of supporting students in
financial need, but we need to do a lot better when it comes to merit. I
salute Norman Riddell and the Millennium Foundation for supporting 17,000
talented young Canadians over the past ten years," says Gucciardi.

    Founded in 1988, the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation is the leading
private foundation granting undergraduate merit scholarships. It is funded by
donations from the private sector and individuals who believe in the value of
investing in Canada's greatest natural resource: our youth. In partnership
with 23 Canadian universities, the foundation grants Loran Awards, each worth
up to $75,000 over four years, to 30 students annually on the basis of
character, service and leadership potential.

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For further information:

For further information: Jesse Helmer, Manager, external relations,
(416) 646-2120, x226,

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