KPU Foundation raises over $136,000 for student awards during GivingTuesday

Awards support equity deserving minority groups whose experiences and challenges are often overlooked, says award recipient

Giving Tuesday is a global day of charitable giving. (submitted)

Giving Tuesday is a global day of charitable giving. (submitted)


The Kwantlen Polytechnic University Foundation partnered with GivingTuesday for an event that raised over $136,000 which will now support more than 136 systemically disadvantaged students. 

GivingTuesday is a worldwide charity drive that takes place every year after Black Friday to source donations for nonprofit and charity organizations. The KPU Foundation and GivingTuesday had a goal to raise $100,000 to help 100 students, but on Nov. 30 that goal was surpassed. 

“The thought is that once people have done all of their Black Friday shopping and Cyber Monday shopping, that on the Tuesday that follows, they take some time and give back to nonprofits and other organizations that are helping communities globally around the world,” says Steve Lewarne, executive director of advancement and alumni affairs at KPU. 

Last year, the KPU Foundation focused on raising funds to support students who had financially suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic. This year the foundation decided to focus on diversity and equity. 

“We felt that it was a good opportunity to feature [diversity and equity] as a need and to identify some of those funds,” he says. 

Lesli Sangha, Kwantlen Student Association Mature Student rep and recent graduate from the Legal Administrative Assistant Certificate, was supported with funds from GivingTuesday. Sangha is the recipient of the 2021 KPU Future Alumni Award. 

“It means a lot to me that I was considered because I am someone that actually struggles with self-confidence and self-esteem … I’m still processing it today. It reassured me that I’m on the right track. It reassured me that I’m exactly where I need to be at KPU. I’m thriving, [not only] as a student, or as a mature student, or as a student with disabilities, but I’m actually thriving as an individual who, regardless of my age, I’m still growing,” says Sangha. 

At KPU there are 593 donor-funded awards that supported over 770 students last year, according to the KPU Foundation GivingTuesday website. “Most of these awards are accessible to KPU students of any identity, however there are only a handful that are uniquely available to Black students, students of colour, Indigenous students, students with disabilities, 2SLGBTQ+ students and/or mature students.” 

Sangha is still surprised after receiving the KPU Future Alumni Award, because she didn’t personally apply for it. 

“I didn’t apply for this award. Individuals are nominated for this award, and it’s a mystery. I don’t know who nominated me. That’s why I’m still excited about the whole thing,” she says. 

The financial aid from the award motivated Sangha to take another semester at KPU after finishing her Legal Administrative Assistant Certificate. She is now collecting credits for a higher credential with the hope to apply at the University of British Columbia Peter A. Allard School of Law. 

Asides from its yearly partnership with GivingTuesday, Lewarne says the KPU Foundation collects funds from individual donors, corporate donors, or in some cases, funds come from other foundations and granting agencies. 

“Our individual donors are usually alumni or community stakeholders that have an interest in KPU and what KPU is doing,” he says.  

The foundation gives out far more than 100 awards of $1,000 per year, he says, adding that it gives out over a million dollars a year to students. 

“Donor awards are so important, as they help to support equity deserving minority groups, such as those that identify as aboriginal, LGBTQ2+, students with disabilities, people of colour, and mature students, because their experiences and challenges are often overlooked,” says Sangha.