Why Support the Merit Award

United Way

Our Mission:

Inspiring youth to pursue higher education and contribute to the community.

The Merit Award provides bursaries to Senior High School students in selected Toronto high schools.  It acts as an important incentive to stay in school and pursue post-secondary education.  Individual bursary awards may range from between $500 to $2000.

The Award is based on students’ commitment to education. While not strictly needs-based, many of the students that apply for the Merit Award are from multicultural backgrounds and have struggled and endured considerable personal and financial hardships.

The high school drop-out rate is unacceptable

The high school drop out rate in Canada was 8.5% in 2009/2010 according to Statistics Canada
• Secondary school non-completion rate in Canada is 3x higher than in Germany and 15x higher than in Japan
• 40% of the new jobs created in our economy will require more than 16 years of education and training.
• The cost of high school drop-outs to Canadian taxpayers is estimated to be $4 billion over the course of just one school year.

Did you know that those without high school diplomas*…

• in 2016 had an unemployment rate of 10.9% compared to 4.9% for those with post-secondary credentials?
• had a labour force participation rate of only 38% in 2016?
• have median after-tax income of less than half that of university graduates?

[* see TD Economics Special Report, “Post-Secondary Education is the Best Investment You can Make“, Sept. 12, 2011, www.td.com/economics & ]


With your help, the Merit Award can make a positive change in the lives of these students providing them with a financial bursary to pursue post secondary education and encouraging them to stay in school.

Have a Direct Connection to Tomorrow’s Community Leaders and their Families

Why we are here:

Successful Track Record

For over 20 years and without government funding, the Merit Award Bursary Program has helped Toronto high school students stay in school and recognized the students that have demonstrated a commitment to their school work, extra-curricular activities and community.

Grassroots Initiative

Started and operated by a group of residents that wanted to promote higher education in their own community, identified a need and took action on it.

Minimal Operating Expenses

Over 95% of our funding goes directly to Merit Award recipients.

Partnering with Educators

The Merit Awards have grown to include 46 participating high schools and 19 alternative education sites and assisted over 2,100 Toronto high school students to stay in school since 1996.

Rewarding Commitment

The program gives a $500, $750 and $2,000 bursary and recognition to students who have demonstrated their commitment to their academic studies, extra-curricular activities, and contribution to the community.

Staying in School is Key

Students are provided with the bursary funds only when they return to either grade 12 or a post-secondary institution in the year following the granting of the award.

Our Vision:

To be a leading contributor of recognition and financial awards to senior secondary school students in high needs Greater Toronto Area schools, by providing:

• incentives to youth of all abilities to pursue advancement through education;
• incentives to youth to contribute to their community; and
• a powerful motivational tool which can be employed by educators and parents.

Your Support Makes a Difference

The Merit Award relies on funding from foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors like you.

Since 1996, the Merit Award has provided over 2,100 financial bursaries to Toronto high school students.  In 2017, the Merit Award granted 153 bursaries to students from 46 participating high schools in Toronto.  This program wouldn’t happen without your support.


Make a Difference in the Life of a Student and in doing so, the Life of Your Community

Please provide your support through a donation or sponsorship.

•  Donate online
•  United Way Donation
•  Corporate Sponsorship

For donation inquiries, please email info@meritaward.ca

Our Corporate Sponsors