Fred VanVleet, point and shooting guard of the Toronto Raptors, wants to help at least one student follow in the footsteps of his Adidas Harden Vol. 3s.
But not on the basketball court. He wants them to follow him into business.
In partnership with Rotman Commerce, VanVleet has created a four-year scholarship for one black or indigenous student pursuing an undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto business school. The one-time Fred VanVleet Scholarship will provide four years of tuition and books along with regular one-on-one mentoring sessions with the NBA star.
“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 says in an announcement. “So maybe the answers come through conversations or shared experiences. Mentorship can provide inspiration, too – seeing someone who looks like you, succeeding on their own terms, is huge.”
‘SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO LOOK LIKE’
A preference will be given for students focused on management.
The Aidas Harden Vol. 3s were the shoes VanVleet wore in Game 6 against the Golden State Warriors — the game that clinched the Raptors’ 2019 NBA championship. VanVleet entered the NBA undrafted in 2016 and has played five season so far.
He’s also an entrepreneur. He founded his own clothing line and store, FVV. This fall he launched “Bet On Yourself,” a podcast focused on BIPOC (Black, Indegenious, People of Color) entrepreneurs in Canada.
“Success looks like whatever you want it to look like, and that may change over the course of your career – both academic and professional,” VanVleet says. “No one expects an 18-year-old kid to know exactly what path they’ll take. But this scholarship will allow that 18-year-old kid to take on experiences and information that will give them the power to shape their own future and decide their own destiny.”
‘POSSIBILITY & LIGHT’
The total value of the scholarship is $57,800 over four years, based on financial need. It includes a $1,000 annual stipend for books and pays up to $7,100 the first year and up to $16,900 for years two through four.
Rotman Commerce, the University of Toronto undergraduate business program, joins together the deep resources and faculty of two renowned centres of learning at the university’s St. George campus. The program is jointly offered by the Rotman School of Management and the Faculty of Arts and Science.
“We are so grateful for Fred VanVleet’s leadership and generous investment in future Black and Indigenous leaders. Scholarships not only provide crucial financial support, they also inspire students to challenge themselves and pursue big dreams—within the Rotman Commerce program and beyond,” says Alex Edwards, associate professor of accounting and director of the Rotman Commerce program.
To be considered, interested incoming students must first apply to Rotman Commerce and complete the awards profile. It will be awarded based on financial need, interest in management, and academic merit.
“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 says.
“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.”