The Co-op Community Spaces Program – building thriving communities and lasting relationships across Western Canada
Community spaces are what bring people together. In trying and often dividing times, they can…
The initiative is TransCanada’s first, internally-administered scholarship program, and was created with the specific intention to reduce barriers to education for communities while also creating value for the business.
More than 350 scholarships are awarded annually to students living in the communities where the company lives, works and operates across North America.
Scholarship are offered in the following categories:
The priority of the program is to remove barriers to education by reducing the often-exclusionary requirements of a traditional scholarship. Applicants are first only required to answer five pre-qualifying questions on the program’s landing website, and following that, a short online application. In addition; students who may struggle to achieve top grades, but are passionate about learning and improving their communities, are given equal consideration.
In its pilot year, the program proved to be highly effective; improving the lives of recipients and their communities overall. The program is flexible and easily customized to student needs, for example by giving financial support directly to students, it can be used towards tuition costs, living costs, child care, or any other financial restraint that is preventing them from pursuing an education.
“We worked with internal groups like Accounts Payable, Vendor Data Management and Legal to ensure we could offer financial support directly to the individual instead of through a post-secondary institution,” said Courtney Stauft, Community Investment Analyst and administrative contact for the program. “Our Community Relations and Indigenous Relations teams were hearing from communities that costs for tuition and books is not always the primary barrier to education. This versatile approach ensures students can more realistically reduce financial burdens.”
Leanne LeBlanc, Community Investment Lead echoed this, “we wanted more students putting up their hands up and saying, I want to go to school and I will, now that I have the financial support to do so.”
Recipients from the pilot year of the program, Katie B., Sonja V., and Josh O. have already used the scholarships to achieve their educational goals and create change in their communities.
Sonja V., recipient of the Indigenous Legacy Scholarship, put the funding towards an MBA program, and her goal to “…ensure our nations have the chance to become self-sufficient and self-sustaining.”
Katie B., who was awarded the Community Leaders Scholarship plans to make it her mission to “… raise awareness about women in agriculture and create as big an impact within my community as possible.”
Josh O., Trades Scholarship recipient, is using the financial support to get a secondary certification in Instrumentation, so he can continue to do interesting work in the energy industry.
What makes TransCanada’s scholarship program unique is its achievement of a dual objective; creating value for both community and business.
“In addition to building community capacity, we also saw an opportunity for the program to help increase the number of skilled trades workers in the areas where we have operations,” said LeBlanc. “The TransCanada Trades Scholarship was created to help address a current business need to recruit the next generation of trades workers for our base business.” The program provides notable business benefit for the company, primarily through dialogue creation, trust building, and brand awareness.
LeBlanc also noted that, “some communities are hesitant to have a dialog with us, or they are unfamiliar with who we are, so sometimes we also use the scholarship program as a tool to have a conversation and introduce ourselves as a good neighbour in a new community.”
The program, and its unique capacity to support both community and business needs, has generated a strong, mutually felt, impact. Its success is evidenced by the fact that in it’s inaugural year, over 1,000 applications were received and close to 300 scholarships were awarded across the U.S. and Canada. Emboldened by this success, in 2018 TransCanada expanded the program into Mexico.
“Increasing access to education improves the lives of individuals and therefore, the communities where they live, LeBlanc stated. “It is hard to quantify the current and future impact of the program, but the testimonials we receive from students certainly give us a sense that we are achieving a tangible impact. We plan for the program to remain part of our community investment strategy and we are making improvements each year to ensure it is sustainable.”
The Community Scholarships are a facet of TransCanada’s North American-wide community investment program, which successfully invested over $17 million in non-profit organizations last year.
TransCanada is a North American energy infrastructure company based in Calgary, Alberta and operating in Canada, the U.S, and Mexico. The company’s community investment program supports the initiatives that matter most to the communities where they live, work and operate. TransCanada was a founding member of LBG Canada, joining in 2005.
For more information on the scholarship visit: https://www.tcscholarships.com/