Establishing a New OAC Award | Ontario Agricultural College

Establishing a New OAC Award

Student awards are a significant part of OAC’s support of student success. Over 430 OAC-specific awards, totalling $1.5 million, are given to OAC students annually, thanks to the generous support of alumni, donors and partners. Establishing an award is truly meaningful way to improve the lives of students. 

Building the Foundation

We first need to establish the core structure of your award by determining the source of funding, as well as the class of student you would like to support, and through which category of award. Laying this foundation allows us to consider how the award will be made available to the students, and how we can further shape the award using more specific criteria 

Step 1: Decide on the Funding Source

  • Annual: Award distribution will be dependent on the duration of your donation, minimum commitment of five (5) years required. 
  • Endowment: Funds are invested into an endowment and the interest is used to fund the award in perpetuity.

Funds will need to be invested for one full fiscal year (May-April) prior to awarding and are subject to the annual endowment return performance. However, an additional year or two of expendable funds can be added to ensure more timely distribution, or distribution in the event of an endowment performance that results in no allocation. We recommend planning for up to three (3) years.

Step 2: Select Academic Level


Students enrolled in any OAC undergraduate program. Interests may be pursued through extracurricular activities (e.g. clubs) and work experience. Academic achievement can be measured based on coursework (e.g. Grade Point Average). Annual minimum: $1,000. Endowed minimum: $30,000 to create a $1,0000 annual award.


Students enrolled in an OAC master’s or doctoral program. Interests may be pursued through extracurricular activities (e.g. clubs) and work experience. Academic achievement can be measured based on research productivity (publications, presentations, conferences, experience), and/or coursework, and faculty assessment. Annual minimum: $5,000. Endowed minimum: $150,000 to create a $5,000 annual award.

Associate Diploma

Program delivered in a two- or three-year format involving focused training in a specific field. OAC's associate diploma programs are primarily offered at Ridgetown Campus, but also include the Associate Diploma in Turfgrass Management offered at the Guelph campus. 

Step 3: Consider the Student

  • Entrance: Students entering their first year of study. The total award value will be split in equal installments, typically paid out 
  • semesterly through the first year.
  • In-course: Students currently registered in an academic term. Distributed in the Fall or Winter. 
  • Graduating: Students who have completed their program. Distributed in Spring.  
  • Travel: Students participating in a curriculum-embedded travel opportunity or pursuing a research or skill development opportunity. 

Have you considered supporting a BIPOC student? 

The University of Guelph has a long-standing commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion on our campuses. One of the initiatives highlighted in the University's Anti-Racism Action Plan is to create new awards for BIPOC students. 

This can be achieved through eligibility criteria or a preference statement. E.g. Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis),or racialized students who are registered in an OAC undergraduate program. 

Step 4: Choose the Award Type 

  • Bursary: Provided to students on the basis of financial need. Academic merit is not considered. Eligible students must be Canadian or permanent residents. Bursaries are not required for graduate students as the University provides institutional level support. Due to the private nature of financial need, bursaries are not included in award events, and recipients must consent to release their name to donors.
  • Scholarship: Provided on the basis of academic achievement and/or non-academic merit (e.g. extra-curricular activities, demonstrated leadership, volunteerism). Recipients are acknowledged for their achievements, and the award is given to encourage further study and accomplishment. Presented at an annual fall awards event. 
  • Prize: Similar to a scholarship, though based on completed academic achievement and/or non- academic merit. Presented at Convocation award celebration. (Applicable to graduating students only.) 
  • Travel Grant: Provided to students who wish to travel as part of their studies. Travel grants are used to offset the additional costs of travel (e.g. airfare, registration fees, vaccinations, meals, accommodations). Travel grants may be distributed throughout the year, and therefore not formally presented. 

Step 5: Determine the Award Application

  • Letter: Students submit an application indicating their alignment with the award. 
  • Nomination: Faculty may recommend a student who they feel best aligns with criteria. 
  • Automatic selection: No application required. Selection may be based on academic merit (eg. GPA) or financial need.

Note: A new award requires time for students to discover and apply to. Generally, the deadline to apply for awards is one (1) semester prior to awarding. A typical timeline for an OAC award to be established is 6-8 months.

Crafting Your Award

A new award can be tailored based on the criteria that is meaningful to you through eligibility, selection criteria, and conditions. Similar to an inverted triangle we start broadly with eligibility and narrow the criteria down into your intended recipient. 

  • Eligibility: Academic level, academic unit, degree program, research area, travel (exchange, conference, research), course completion, financial need, etc. 
  • Selection: Academic proficiency, research performance, financial need, leadership, extra-curricular involvement, experience, background, etc. 
  • Conditions: Tenability (can the award be held more than once?), Preference (non-essential considerations), Renewal


Graduate in-course scholarship for a student engaged in weed science research. Ideally, interests further pursued through extra-curricular activities. 

  • Eligibility: Graduate student in the Department of Plant Agriculture engaged in weed science research. 
  • Selection: Academic excellence and research potential. 
  • Conditions: Preference to student on OAC Weeds Team.

For more information, contact Shannon Fawns, Development Manager (OAC) | 519-824-4120, Ext. 53627