Together For Our Youth program supports students as they return to school

Montreal, September 22, 2021 - As students head back to school and return to in-person learning, Desjardins Group continues its support to youth by investing a total of $2.55 million in donations, grants, scholarships and sponsorships amid the new school year. To help during these difficult and uncertain times, as the pandemic continues to strongly impact young people, Desjardins is participating in a variety of national and local initiatives aimed to bring youth and communities together including the Student Technology Donation Program, Relay for Life, Jump Rope for Heart and the Desjardins Foundation.

These initiatives are only a small portion of the company's overall support to youth. Together For Our Youth by Desjardins is a program that dedicates $50 million a year towards empowering young people by supporting education, community participation, employment and physical and mental health.

"Being there for our youth has always been a priority for Desjardins. As they return to school it is important for us to continue our support of their educational growth and help them achieve success," said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group. "Canadian students have experienced a disruption to their education due to COVID-19 and face a challenging year ahead. Together, alongside our partners, teachers and community leaders we can truly make a difference for these young people."

Partnerships that help make it happen

Bridging the technology gap in education

The pandemic highlighted the increasing need for technology supplies for students. The role technology plays in educating our students has never been more evident. Access to technology should not be a barrier to educational success.

Desjardins is continuing its collaboration with EdCan Network and is donating $100,000 to schools across Canada to help them meet student's increasing technology needs. Applications for the 2021 program is now open to teachers and principals; it will award 20 Canadian public schools from grades K to 12 with funds to purchase computers and other technology-based tools.

"Last year, this tech donation program surfaced an urgent need for digital equipment in too many schools across Canada, which was exacerbated due to the shift to remote and hybrid learning models," said EdCan Chair Denise Andre. "We're proud to collaborate with Desjardins to continue to heighten opportunities for more students to receive the tools that they need to thrive."

Joining forces with Jump Rope for Heart

Desjardins is partnering with the Heart & Stroke with its Ontario sponsorship of Jump Rope for Heart, which is currently celebrating its 40-year anniversary. Desjardins will be sponsoring the event that 800 primary schools take part in across the province. Not only does the event encourage and educate children about healthy living and being active, it also raises money for critical research, supports survivors and their families and gives 10 per cent of funds back to participating schools for sports equipment and learning tools.

"As a health organization, but also as parents, caregivers, educators and community partners, it is important to encourage children to be active and to build healthy habits for a healthier life. Jump Rope for Heart is a fun way to do just that. It brings kids together to enjoy physical activity and learn about heart health at the same time," said Avril Goffredo, Executive Vice President, Ontario & Nunavut, at Heart & Stroke. "As we celebrate Jump Rope for Heart's 40th anniversary, we are grateful for Desjardins' continued support. Thank you for helping us beat heart disease and stroke."

Continuing support for the Canadian Cancer Society

Desjardins is a national sponsor for Canadian Cancer Society's Relay for Life Youth, an annual fundraising event that brings together communities across the country and empowers students to be leaders. Relay for Life events will begin in the Fall and will continue throughout the school year. The money raised goes towards funding game-changing cancer research and provides a support system for those affected by cancer at every step of their journey through information, resources, connections and communities.

"We are proud to partner with Desjardins for our Relay for Life Youth program because of their unwavering commitment to empowering and growing young leaders through community participation," said Andrea Seale, CEO at the Canadian Cancer Society. "Each year, Relay for Life Youth brings together 51,000 students from provinces across the country to raise funds to help those affected by cancer. We are excited to work with Desjardins to harness the passion of thousands of health-minded youth, encouraging and supporting them as they play an active role in changing the future of cancer."

The Desjardins Foundation

An important initiative for the Foundation is providing scholarships for post-secondary education. In the past year, alongside Desjardins Ontario Credit Union, it has awarded a total of 45 scholarships to student members. These scholarships are given to young people who have showcased perseverance against challenges as well as those who are actively engaged in their community through volunteering or involvement at school. This year, a new category has been added to support people who, as a result of the pandemic, are changing careers and going back to school. In 2021, $2 million has been awarded by the Desjardins Foundation's scholarship program to Desjardins Members in Ontario and Quebec.

"We want to help students that stand out for more than just their grades and reward those who work hard to overcome obstacles in order to finish school and have become stronger and more resilient because of it," said Cormier. "Desjardins Foundation has been contributing to the academic success of our youth since 1970, it is a testament of our commitment to youth's academic success, which is vital to our nation's future."

The Foundation also awards Desjardins Foundation Prizes to support youth in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick. The prizes award teachers and community workers who are committed to making a difference and helping youth achieve their dreams. They provide financial assistance for small projects with a direct impact on kindergarten, elementary and secondary school students. This includes projects that have a positive impact on youth's motivation, self-esteem, relationships with their peers, healthy lifestyles and other areas. Last year 62,000 young people were reached across 421 projects in the country. The application period for 2021 will be open from October 4th to 25th and will award more than $1 million.

For journalists only: Dana Sharman, public relations, Desjardins Group