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2014-02-05 at 11:55


By Leith Dunick,
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The Ronald B. Lester Memorial Youth Foundation is joining forces with the Thunder Bay Community Foundation.

Susan Lester, whose late husband started the foundation named in his honour, signed the transfer agreement on Wednesday, saying it’s the best way to ensure the bursaries continue to be doled out to students in need.

After 14 years, it was just too much work involved for their board of directors, Lester said.

“They had other things going on and we just thought it made perfect sense for a community bursary to join a community foundation. For us it was a win-win situation because the Community Foundation has allowed some of the board members to maintain control of the bursary.”

Family members and a board member will still short-list the applicants, who will be chosen based both on financial need and outstanding service to the community.

“We will be interviewing and we have the final say on who wins the bursaries,” Lester said. “The Community Foundation, on the other hand, does the daily administrative work. That was the part that was getting a little bit tedious and no one wanted to take it on.”

Originating from Harbour Youth Foundation started Justice Ronald B. Lester and agency co-founder Walter Serkowney, the foundation was renamed after Lester following his 2000 death.

Now valued at more than $300,000, the Ronald B. Lester foundation has given out more than $150,000 to 34 students since 2000.

Tere McDonald, chairman of the Thunder Bay Community Foundation, said their excited to help administer to the Lester foundation funds.

The TBCF started 42 years ago with a $100,000 donation. It’s grown to more than $8 million, with $318,000 disbursed annually.

Taking on the Ronald B. Lester Foundation is a great fit, McDonald said.

“Our foundation gives people the opportunity to create their own endowment, to create their living and lasting legacies. So it’s the donors that create the bursaries and the scholarships. It’s their will that wants students in the area to continue their education. So we’re just the vehicle for them to carry out their wishes to enrich the lives of students in Northwestern Ontario.”

The Ronald B. Lester Memorial Youth Foundation bursaries will be advertised in March and given out each June at the TBCF’s annual reception.



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