The founders’ spirit well and alive at Renison

Renison University College and Family & Children’s Services of the Waterloo Region partner to offer fully-funded residence spaces for youth in foster care during first year of study.

Renison, one of the affiliated university colleges at the University of Waterloo, launched an appeal to donors in 2015 and has secured enough support for one (and possibly two) first-year Crown Ward students to receive a fully-funded residence spot during the 2016/2017 academic year. The offer, which includes a full meal-plan, is currently a $10,500 value, and plans are underway to sustain this support to additional first-year students who are Crown Wards in the coming years.


photo by Brandon Bedford Kari Stewart (left) and Caroline Tanswell: It is important to see the fabric of our college.

“Often in a university we look for help from the community to facilitate our programs and we at Renison want also to say what can we give to the community. So we are not just taking donations all the time from people in support of our buildings and our scholarships, but we want to do something that is going to help in the community, and I think that is particularly Anglican”, says Caroline Tanswell, director of advancement at Renison, confirming that the spirit of the college’s founders is still well and alive.

Renison University College was founded in 1959 under the authority of the Synod of the Diocese of Huron, due to the efforts of the Kitchener and Waterloo Anglican communities.

“People usually see a university, they do not see all other pieces that are the fabric of that institution. We are constantly looking at how we could be more involved with the community. One of the ideas we considered was helping students who cannot afford to live in residence and in conversation with our principle we talked about Crown Wards. We set up a meeting with Family and Children Services and asked is there an actual need for Crown Wards to have this experience, and the answer was absolutely, yes. So we decided we would make that a focus for our annual appeal this year and it resonated with a fair number of people”, explains Tanswell.

“We are still receiving donations, we have a parish in our Deanery who’ve said we would like to put an insert into our church bulletin taking about this project so all their parishioners will see that.  With any luck we will have two students who could apply for residence at Renison if they’ve been accepted to the University of Waterloo.”

Kari Pasick Stewart, who is in charge of Renison’s marketing and communications, also sits on a joint committee with Family and Children Services:

“Renison is making a difference with efforts to help Crown Wards achieve education. Very often the Crown Wards in high school are couple of years behind due to their personal circumstances, so sometimes they need extra support to make it into postsecondary education”.

To her knowledge, Renison is the first college that has done this across Canada which also fits into Renison’s specific profile.

“We have a full meal plan, an on-site chaplain, always ready to talk to students, a full-time  social worker just for Renison students, our don-to-student ratio is one to 21, an dons are available 24/7.”

Renison has been affiliated with the University of Waterloo since 1960. Almost 1,200 students are enrolled in programs and 220 Renison and Waterloo students call it their home.