You may know Fred VanVleet for his basketball prowess but he is also an influential force off the court. He is partnering with the Rotman Commerce at the University of Toronto to offer the ‘Fred VanVleet Scholarship’ to support a Black or Indigenous student through their undergraduate degree.
The scholarship will provide four years of tuition plus a $1,000 stipend for books each year, with preference to a student focused on management. The total value of the four-year scholarship for one student is more than $60,000.
“This is to create possibility and light for those who have faced bias, who haven’t had the same chances as others. It’s important to provide opportunities to those who opportunity usually ignores, or works against, or excludes,” VanVleet said.
“Academia hasn’t traditionally been an inclusive place for many of us, and so it’s important to make space specifically for people who want to learn, but who are facing barriers that others do not,” he added.
The scholarship recipient will also have a once in a lifetime change to get one-on-one mentoring from VanVleet.
“Mentorship is an important part of this, because you won’t find a lot of the answers in books – or the answers that are there are filtered through an experience and a history that is not yours or that may not even be accurate because of bias,” VanVleet said. “Mentorship can provide inspiration, too – seeing someone who looks like you, succeeding on their own terms, is huge.”
“Fred sets an example on and off the court, and this scholarship is further evidence of his leadership and vision,” Raptors Vice Chairman and President Masai Ujiri said. “I believe the recipient of the Fred VanVleet Scholarship will benefit from not just the support in their education, but their relationship with this incredible person.”
Besides being a NBA champion, VanVleet is also an entrepreneur, whose interests include a clothing line and shop, and who hosts a podcast aimed at BIPOC businesspeople, supporting their efforts across all stages of their career.