Founded in 1938 and incorporated by the act of the legislature in 1958, the St. James Scholarship Foundation has fulfilled a vital function for many years administering thousands of dollars in scholarships and awards to deserving students in St. James-Assiniboia School Division.
The history of the St. James Scholarship Foundation is a little like the history of St. James itself, a story of citizens getting together for the advancement of a common cause.
The Foundation began with nothing— no funds and no organization beyond a group of 12 dedicated volunteers. Six months after the inception of the Foundation in December of 1938, the group received its first contribution of $3.00 raised by the ladies of a bridge group. In the years to come throughout the Second World War, further funds were raised by a group of St. James Collegiate Alumni. The Foundation remained very much a "kitchen table" organization guided by local volunteerism for the next twenty years.
It wasn't until 1958 when a more formal organization was suggested. An interested and passionate group petitioned the Manitoba Government to incorporate the St. James Scholarship Foundation. The petitioners included:
R F Wightman, MLA St James
T B Finlay, Mayor of St James
W S Scott, Treasurer
A W Hanks, Editor, St James Leader
J S Hannah, Barrister
C Pearl L'Ami, Social Editor
Elinor Wheeler, widow
Fannie Cook, widow
Esther Argue, teacher
V G Clark, school principal
The St. James Scholarship Foundation Incorporation Act came into effect April 9,1958. This began an era of more formal organization and a closer linkage with the administration of the school division, as well as the finance department. The fund benefited greatly from this linkage as members of the finance department began to take on the role of Secretary Treasurer on the board. Their significant expertise and experience helped best manage the Foundation's resources. During this period, donated capital was invested into guaranteed investment certificates (GIC) at banks and credit unions. The GIC provided safety for our capital and with historical high interest rates, income could endow an award in perpetuity.
Over time prevailing interest rates began to change and could no longer generate the income needed for the scale of the awards program. This resulted in some underfunded awards being discontinued.
With no end in sight with the decline of interest income, the Foundation decided to take a new direction rather than reduce the program. In 2014, an agency fund was established at The Winnipeg Foundation. The fund was initially established with a transfer of $20,000 from our capital, which was matched with $15,000 from The Winnipeg Foundation.
In a relatively short period of time, the agency fund has grown substantially. In four years, the fund now stands at over $140,000. The income produced has allowed for expansion in our program, such as in 2017, the Indigenous Leadership Award was introduced in the amount of $1000 on an annual basis.
The agency fund continues to be of great benefit to donors. It works to enable perpetual awards and can accept donations in many forms as opposed to strictly cash. Donated funds now benefit from professional money management services provided by The Winnipeg Foundation producing income that more than doubles our GIC investments.
During this time the Foundation also developed a web presence on the St. James-Assiniboia School Division website. This enables interested members of the public to review our governance procedures, our meeting minutes and our annual reports. This access to information has been important in encouraging new donations.
The St. James Scholarship Foundation, partnered with The Winnipeg Foundation now sees a future of sustainability and growth. Our new partnership continues to attract new donors, both private and corporate, to continue to benefit deserving students in our community schools. The St. James Scholarship Foundation is a registered charity and all donations are tax deductible. As we reflect on our 80 years in the community, we look forward to continuing to grow our scholarships and awards to best support youth in accomplishing their dreams in St. James-Assiniboia.