One of the Club’s purposes is to improve educational opportunities for women and girls. Our major focus to achieve that purpose is through scholarships and bursaries at Vancouver Island University (VIU) and at School District 68 Nanaimo-Ladysmith (SD68).
In the early years of the Club, rummage and bake sales were held to support scholarship. By the early 70’s, these fund-raising efforts were supplemented with a contribution of $4.50 (raised to $6.00 in 1986) from each member’s annual dues.
The funds available for scholarships and bursaries have also come from fashion shows, teas, speakers, bingo, personal donations and bequests, collections from interest groups, our very successful Christmas Dinner and Silent Auction. The Club participates in the Thrifty’s Smile Card program, and receives 5% of the amount spent on groceries by Club cardholders to an annual maximum of $1,000.
In February 2001 the Club donated $25,000 to create an endowment with the Vancouver Island University Foundation (formerly Malaspina University College Foundation). This endowment has grown to a value of more than $214,000 thanks to our ongoing contributions and the receipt of matching funds from the Province and University.
CFUW Nanaimo has been awarding scholarships at VIU since the early 1970’s, beginning with the Jean McRae Memorial Scholarship and the Marjorie Neave Memorial Centennial Scholarship. The Endowment now supports annually two scholarships of $1,500 each, one memorial award for $1,500, one bursary of $1,000, and a further $1,000 bursary for an Adult Basic Education graduate continuing in degree programs. Our contribution to the 2019 CFUW 100th Anniversary will be a new award at VIU: $2,000 to a senior student in one of the ocean sciences.
The Club also supports secondary students in SD68. A book prize was granted up to 1959; after that, it was changed to a $100 award and for some years, a $25 cheque was presented to the Counsellor’s Discretionary Fund. Over the years the high school awards have grown to their current level of the Nanaimo Scholarship of $1,600, Nanaimo bursary of $1,100 and the Ladysmith Scholarship of $750. 2014 was the inaugural year of a $1,000 award to a Nanaimo graduate entering a two-year Diploma program.
In 2018, with one-time top-ups, our Club has funded annual awards of $12,500 to local high school and university women students. We are pleased to invite recipients to attend a General meeting each year; their presence continues to inspire us in support of education.
We receive many cards of thanks from students about the impact of the awards they have received. In 1985, the Marjorie Neave Music Scholarship was awarded to Ingrid Jensen, now an international jazz trumpeter. Ingrid said: “In combination with other awards I received, the Marjorie Neave Scholarship not only gave assistance financially but helped build my confidence to go forward with a career that, at the time, was not considered a traditional or “normal” path for a young woman to take. I consider all of the awards and assistance I received to have contributed to this wonderful life I live. Thank you again to the University Women’s Club.”
A 2015 recipient of the $1,000 VIU Re-entry award says “Although I had always planned on going back to school, the decision was larger than I had expected. The award not only will be a financial boost, but it also is just a fabulous personal support for me.” At the end of the school year, she sent another note “I wanted to reiterate my absolute appreciation for your scholarship. I had a very successful year at ‘getting back in the saddle.’ ”