Celebrating One’s Good Fortune by Giving Back

Last month, I read the news of John and Marcy McCall MacBain’s generous donation of $200-million to McGill University.  This is an historic amount by Canadian standards and duly noted among our institutions of higher learning.  The expression “giving back” immediately came to mind as both husband and wife benefitted from scholarships and student loans to obtain their university degrees.  They have been giving back through their foundation for the past 12 years. 

The couple has previously donated $120 million for Rhodes Scholarships which were established in 1902 for post-graduate study at Oxford University in England.  This time, they chose to support John’s alma mater, McGill University.  Aiming to open doors for future undergraduates with leadership potential to pursue their academic dream, this scholarship will be awarded to 75 students each year, 50 from across Canada and 25 from around the world, allowing students to pursue a degree that they may have previously thought unattainable due to expense.

Like the McCall MacBain family, our Eberts family believes that the practice of giving back to the benefit of others less fortunate is the pillar upon which a great society depends.  This story resonates with me on multiple levels.  Scholarships are near and dear to my heart.  Thanks to the generosity of others, I was able to attend Bishop’s College School in Sherbrooke, QC.

We six siblings, as was our father (Edmond Howard Eberts), are graduates of McGill University.  Upon his death in 1977, we began what has become a family tradition of philanthropy by establishing the Ted Eberts Memorial Scholarship in his honour at Bishop’s College School.

Following our mother’s (Elizabeth Evelyn MacDougall) passing in 2000, we endowed the First People’s House High Performance Camp at McGill University.  This initiative was designed to inspire and empower aboriginal students and to enhance recruitment and outreach by the University through sports, education and mentoring.  This gesture once again served as a way for the Eberts family to honour another institution we have had close ties to.

In 2003, with the intention of giving back for the generosity of others who afforded me the opportunity to attend Bishop’s College School, I set about establishing the Eberts Endowment Fund at The Country Day School, an independent school that I helped found in 1972 and to which my three daughters, Jennifer, Rachael and Katie (’94), all attended.  Since 2012 it is known as the Eberts Entrance Scholarship.  It is to benefit qualified incoming grade 9 or 10 students and is awarded annually, ensuring that qualified candidates may experience the many benefits of an independent school education, just as I did at Bishop’s College School.

One of my proudest moments is the annual Eberts Scholars’ Breakfast held the Friday after Closing Day.  I have come to know these students, and they me.  It brings tears to my eyes when they share the story of what they’ve learned, their accomplishments, and their gratitude.  My life has come full circle.  I can assure you there is nothing to equal the joy of generosity.