A village raises a student, and a local scholarship program can help high school students in Collingwood and Clearview reach their full potential.
Resources for Area Youth Success (RAYS), a charitable organization based in Creemore, is gearing up for another year of providing scholarships and bursaries to local students with financial need. New this year, the application process has moved online to make sure it is more accessible.
In the past, applications needed to be downloaded, printed and mailed in for consideration.
“We felt we needed to move to something that’s more ecologically friendly and technologically friendly for our students,” said Barbara Lemaire, scholarship committee chair.
Comprised of volunteers in Creemore, Stayner and the surrounding communities, RAYS provides support through funding and mentorship programs for high school students looking to continue their education.
The program is available to students who either plan to attend a Canadian, publicly-funded university or are destined for trade school, community college and/or an apprenticeship program and is funded by donations from members in the community.
“We want to keep our organization focused on our community... as a small, grassroots organization,” said Barbara Lemaire, Scholarship Committee Chair. “Every scholarship or bursary recipient is also paired with a local mentor to provide support.”
Founded by Tony Fry, RAYS first launched in 2008 as Ray’s Place, which provided summer jobs and resources to local youth. The program awarded its first scholarship in 2012.
RAYS has since awarded scholarships and bursaries totalling $350,000 over the past nine years.
“We recognize that there’s little that students in more rural-based communities can do. There’s no public transit. I raised my family in Toronto, and our kids didn’t need a car to work,” said Lemaire.
“The kids in our communities, if they want a part-time job, many of them are saving for a car and none of them can live at home to go to university,” she said. “We feel this is a way that all of us can give back.”
The program is based on financial need and is available to graduating students from Stayner Collegiate Institute, Collingwood Collegiate Institute, Our Lady of the Bay Catholic High School, Centre Dufferin District High School and Robert F. Hall Catholic Secondary School. Eligible students must achieve grades of 80 per cent or higher in all courses, submit an essay and a letter of acceptance from their university or college of choice.
“Given these challenging financial times with COVID-19, we also have a gap-year allowance,” said Lemaire.
Scholarship recipients receive up to $20,000 distributed over four years of university and bursary students are offered between $1,000 and 2,000 over one or two years. Generally, three students are selected for scholarships annually.
The program has been supported by more than 40 donors, with approximately 30 volunteers giving their time as mentors, committee members and board members.
Applications for the RAYS scholarships and bursaries are due by May 2, 2022. The program is also always looking for new donors or mentors. For more information or to apply, click here.