our President and CEO
A bold vision for a better life
As President and CEO of the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation, I am absolutely honoured to share with you the story of this unprecedented year and our ongoing journey to position the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation as a forward-thinking leader in our nation and beyond.
In 2017, we began a multi-year reinvention of our organization with a focus on delivering holistic solutions using digital technologies and strategies to help us achieve our number one goal; helping Canadian families save for post-secondary education.
In 2018, CST made a bold move and implemented a new digital business model. This new digital sales channel allows us to explore ways to add new sources of value for the large and growing segment of young millennial parents, their families and community. On June 11th the first ever digital RESP company was born. Launched in the province of Ontario, CST Spark became the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation’s second subsidiary company. CST Spark combines specialized education savings investment support and advice from our team of professional savings consultants with digital technology.
We also expanded our RESP offering through CST Spark with the next generation of RESP product called Bright Plan. Designed with simplicity and flexibility, Bright Plan offers age-based rebalancing that shifts the investment mix from equities to fixed income assets as a child gets older with seasoned investment leaders actively managing the portfolio.
In 2019, we will continue to evolve this new business with an aim to expand the offering into new markets across Canada.
Driving our purpose forward
Energized by our bold new venture, we began to reflect on our accountability for not only helping children realize their dream of attending university or college but also creating a positive social impact.
We have of a legacy of innovation and inspired thinking – for the past five decades we have been focused on our mission: driving changes and innovations in education by developing products like the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), advocating for policy changes in the attainment of higher education and the creation of programs such as the Canada Education Savings Grant and Canada Learning Bond. However, the context for the work of our Foundation has started to change with RESPs and grant programs are now mainstream.
This provided us with the unprecedented opportunity to explore new ways of helping families, a so-called blank slate like the one that our Foundation’s pioneers started with when they first created the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation.
In 2018, I along with Management, took on this contemplative endeavour with great zeal, unlocking an even greater purpose for the Foundation armed in a simple yet fundamental truth: everyone deserves a better life. To deliver a better life for families we need to do more than just sell RESPs. It became clear that as an organization we have the power and the duty to unlock and inspire the voyage of discovery for all youth to pursue their dreams. Afterall, it is in our DNA. This voyage of discovery will be anchored in four fundamental pillars that would serve as our North Star. Everyone deserves: a better start; a better life; a better future; and a better world.
This work isn’t for the faint of heart. It requires not only more bold forward thinking but also the tenacity and determination to stay the course. A drive that could only be found in a purpose that is fundamental to the success of building a nation.
A better start
The journey toward our North Star had already begun in 2018 with our multi-year strategic reinvention through CST Spark and Bright Plan. Helping families with a better start means helping them save for their child’s education from the time they are born to when they are ready to go school. This past year we also continued to improve the experience for our over 250,000 customers at CST Consultants Inc., investing in critical foundational areas of our business and continuing to take steps to transform and digitize operations. And in 2019 through to 2021 we will be transforming our group RESP offering to add more flexibility so that families can continue to meet their financial goals.
A better life
One of the greatest joys I have is connecting with the families we’ve been able to help and the students across Canada we’ve been able to inspire through our Graduate and Scholarship Awards program. This year we were able to fund a better life for some of our most promising young minds so that they could continue their educational journeys. We were also able to honour the Canadians who empower others to have a better life through our partnership with MusiCounts. It was my pleasure to acknowledge one of Canada’s most iconic song writers, Jim Cuddy at this year’s JUNO Awards for his tireless work of inspiring young Canadians to pursue their education through music. This truly remarkable partnership we’ve been able to form reminds us all that the path to a better life is not linear and that the voyage of discovery for young people can take many different paths and forms.
A better future
To help young people navigate this journey the Foundation continues to make investments in work integrated learning and career planning through our Inspired Minds: Careers 2030 initiative and our Co-Op development program partnerships some of the top-rated universities and colleges in the country. In 2019 we will continue to move forward with this work so that we can help future-proof the next generation of students, so they are prepared to enter the workforce of tomorrow.
A better world
The Foundation has made a meaningful contribution to Canada’s education system, in particular, the means with which Canadians are able to access post-secondary studies. Through our advocacy and stakeholder relations work, we have helped establish many of the programs that govern the way students’ access higher learning opportunities. In 2019, we will leverage our strengths in this area to involve a wider range of stakeholder with the aim of working together to gain insights on how we can make an even bigger impact on not only our nation but the world in the years to come.
Our new North Star is ambitious but not impossible because it is authentic. It is both within our power and our duty as stewards of the Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation to go back to our roots and become the dreamers that believe in the promise of something better for all of us.
Sherry MacDonald President and CEO Canadian Scholarship Trust Foundation C.S.T. Consultants Inc.