The University of Manitoba received a significant gift Tuesday.

UM alumni Walter and Maria Schroeder, philanthropists and champions of education, gifted the post-secondary institute with $2.1 million.

The Schroeders have been committed to education in Winnipeg since 2018 when they established the Schroeder Foundation Scholarships at UM with an initial gift of $1.2 million.

The scholarships support students from St. John's High School, Sisler High School and Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute, all located in underserved neighbourhoods.

The program offers full-tuition scholarships, renewable for up to four years, for a total award of $30,000 per student. Additional wrap-around support includes a three-week summer school program, stipends, residence accommodations, tutoring, and mentorship, which makes their program stand out as one of UM’s most impactful awards.

With their new gift of $2.1 million, the Schroeder Foundation will provide full-tuition scholarships and support to 92 students at UM.

"We are extraordinarily grateful to Walter and Maria Schroeder for their generous gift and passion for bettering the lives of so many UM students,” says Dr. Michael Benarroch, UM president and vice-chancellor.
"Winnipeg is where our heart is, and we truly believe in education over poverty. We believe that our own lives are proof. The education we received provided the foundation that enabled us to succeed," says Walter Schroeder.

Walter and Maria both grew up in working-class families. Ukrainian immigrants, Walter's parents worked as janitors and cleaners to make ends meet. Meanwhile, Maria Schroeder, also an immigrant to Winnipeg, faced her own hardships when she lost her father during the Second World War.

After completing their post-secondary studies at the University of Manitoba, the Schroeders moved to Toronto, founding the Dominion Bond Rating Service (DBRS), which grew to become the fourth-largest bond-rating agency globally. In 2014, inspired by the compassion they had received from others during their formative years, the Schroeders sold their business and decided to dedicate their resources to helping others.

"We get a lot of satisfaction in doing good for others, and we hope this gift will leave a generational impact. At the end of the day, if all you've got is money, you've led a meaningless life," say the Schroeders. 

Walter and Maria Schroeder will honoured this week at the Association of Fundraising Professionals 2023 Manitoba Philanthropy Awards, where they will receive the Outstanding Philanthropist Award. The award ceremony will take place on Wednesday.