CPA Ontario’s Foundation Draws a Circle of Success Around Indigenous Students with Educational Grant

Following the successful launch of CPA Ontario’s bursary program last year, the CPA Ontario Foundation is proud to announce the next phase of its community investment for Black and Indigenous students through the Circle of Success educational grant.

This latest offering, designed to support Indigenous students on their career journey, was developed in close consultation with Indigenous CPAs who sit on the Foundation’s Indigenous Knowledge Building Council, and Ontario’s post-secondary institutions.

The Circle of Success educational grant provides a range of financial supports, including tuition relief, course and exam fees, books, life expenses, and emergency funds for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students in Ontario. In equipping students with the necessary knowledge and skills at key stages of education, the grant aims to support the next generation of Indigenous CPAs and business leaders.

The Circle of Success educational grant is about more than financial support. The Foundation provides continuous support of students, community and network-building with other grant and bursary recipients from across the province, and mentorship connections with more established Indigenous CPAs. Grant recipients also have full access to CPA Ontario’s student programming, including mental health support.

The Foundation paves the way for a more inclusive CPA community that reflects the diversity of experiences by investing in culturally responsive education and professional development resources at key stages of the career journey, thereby empowering Indigenous students’ excellence.

Coming full circle: The difference a year can make

In May 2023, the Foundation announced a partnership with Pathways to Education Canada to support the long-term mentoring, tutoring and career exploration opportunities for high school students across Ontario who face barriers to their pursuit of their CPA. The Foundation also launched two bursary programs for Black and Indigenous students, awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need to 20 students at 10 Ontario colleges and universities.

One grant recipient from Seneca Polytechnic told CPA Ontario: "Receiving this [bursary award] not only provides financial assistance, but also serves as a source of motivation and inspiration, affirms my beliefs in my abilities and encourages me to continue striving for excellence in my studies. With this award, I’ll be able to focus more on my education, pursue additional learning opportunities, and invest in resources that will enhance my academic journey.”

Last month, CPA Ontario received the Diversio 2023 Workplace Impact award, in recognition of the Foundation bursary program’s impactful support of Black and Indigenous post-secondary students aspiring to be CPAs.

And just this month, the Foundation’s Circle of Success educational grant was introduced to attendees of Indspire’s Soaring conference in Ottawa on April 16 and 17.

CPA Ontario Student Recruiter Gloria Annable, CPA Ontario Foundation Executive Director Wendy Mitchell, and Jennifer Reynolds, CPA Ontario’s VP of EDI & Partnerships introduce the Circle of Success educational grant to attendees at Indspire’s Soaring conference on April 17.

“We heard from more than 200 young and aspiring Indigenous students who told us their stories,” says Wendy Mitchell, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “They shared their aspirations, challenges and opportunities, their perceptions of accounting, and a genuine sense of inspiration at the possibilities the Circle of Success educational grant could provide for their future pathways.”

Sharing Indigenous student success stories

In addition to the range of supports and programming meant to inspire Indigenous students to become CPAs, the Circle for Success educational grant invests in and works collaboratively with Indigenous organizations and our partners to tackle persistent societal and financial barriers to educational success.

“Together with our Indigenous Knowledge Building Council and partners, the Foundation is supporting students from Indigenous communities—starting at the earliest stage of their career journey—achieve CPA certification and unlock their potential,” says Mitchell.

The Foundation, which works to foster inclusion and belonging for all students and aspiring CPAs from priority communities, is honoured to amplify the voices of Black and Indigenous students and members who are advancing the profession, shaping their community, and making a difference in society.

“For every aspiring accountant seeking to work in Ontario, a CPA designation is so much more than a title—it opens new pathways to a meaningful career that can make a reciprocally positive impact in the CPA’s own community and the wider business world,” says Wendy Mitchell, the Foundation’s Executive Director. “Together with our partners, we develop measurable solutions to the real barriers experienced by students from Black, Indigenous and other priority communities so they can realize their aspirations,” says Mitchell.