A Future-Focused Gift: Branksome receives $1-million donation for innovation facilities and programs
Fostering excellence in girls’ education is a particular passion for Donald Guloien, Irene Boychuk and their daughter Perry'19. Now, they’ve further cemented that vision, with a $1-million donation earmarked for Branksome Hall’s future Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre facility, and innovation programming.
The facility’s mission — to set young women up for success in STEM, creativity and entrepreneurship — resonates deeply with the family.
Guloien, who recently retired as President and CEO of Manulife, says an innovation mindset is an essential component of success, and is becoming more important every day. “Attitude and capability are paramount, but programs and facilities are helpful to nurture those instincts.”
Although now a past parent, Guloien, who is Vice-Chair of Branksome’s Board of Governors, remains committed to giving back. “Our daughter got a superb education at Branksome,” he says. “She was the beneficiary of others’ investments in the school and we’re delighted to ‘pay it forward’.”
Although Guloien and Boychuk, formerly a top Human Resources executive for Apple Canada and the Toronto Stock Exchange, are philanthropists with many interests, Branksome is particularly close to their hearts. As champions of girls’ learning, they’re keenly aware of the disparity in giving to single-gender schools.
“Giving to boys’ schools is typically much greater than to girls’ schools,” says Guloien. While he finds that reality “disturbing,” he also sees it as a great catalyst for those who genuinely believe in gender parity. "I can't see any parent saying their daughter is worth less than their son"."
Branksome is a longstanding priority for Guloien and Boychuk, who also contributed to the construction of the Athletics & Wellness Centre. They’re proud to be part of a school that continues evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of its students and they challenge others in the community to invest in Branksome’s future.
“We have this unique opportunity to make Branksome stand out further,” says Guloien. “With our gift, we hope to inspire and attract investments both larger and smaller, from others with a passion for fostering innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship.”
“The Innovation Centre and Studio Theatre facility will amplify our core mission to challenge and inspire girls to love learning and shape a better world,” says Principal Karen Jurjevich. “We are so grateful to Don and Irene for their incredible support and leadership.”
Slated for completion in 2023, the new facility will serve as a hub for the entire Branksome community — providing a space that will fit any type of innovator, while also helping students learn to take risks, build confidence and become more adaptable. Along with providing students with access to leading-edge tools and technologies, it will also integrate the arts to allow students to fully realize their creative and innovative projects on various platforms.
“To ensure we’re ‘future-proofing’ our students, they need to learn to solve problems in new ways,” says Jurjevich. “That’s really what innovation means. This new centre will provide students with an unprecedented opportunity to become the flexible, creative, entrepreneurial thinkers of tomorrow.”
Guloien agrees and challenges others in the school community to follow his family’s example: “We should take delight in the fact that Branksome is leading with this initiative and support it with all our might. The time to do this is now; the girls are worth it.”