Humber writing school to dole out new fall grants

by | Apr 11, 2014 | A&E

Adam Stroud
A&E Reporter

Two new scholarships have recently been secured for the Humber Creative Writing by Correspondence program and the Humber Fall Writing Workshop.
Publishing mogul and philanthropist Avie Bennett, and Gordon Johnson and the Budd Sugarman Foundation donated the two scholarships, totaling $50,000 over the next five years.

The awards will be divided up by granting five $1,000 scholarships to students in the correspondence program and eight $500 scholarships to students entering the Fall Writing Workshop.

Joe Kertes, dean of the School of Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA), secured both scholarships. He said he is thrilled to be able to help students work towards their goals of becoming writers.

Kertes said he landed the scholarships through rubbing elbows and personal connections. He said he has known donor Avie Bennett for some time.

“We had met at a couple of big literary functions. So I approached him to ask if he would support scholarships at Humber and he very generously did,” he explained.
Bennett refused to offer comment on why he made the donation.

Kertes secured the other $25,000 from Gordon Johnson and the Budd Sugarman Foundation. Johnson was the lifelong partner of Budd Sugarman and Kertes’ high school English teacher.

“[Johnson] had a lifelong love of writing, so when [Kertes] approached us about the donation we thought it would be a worthy cause to honour his name,” said Gerald Soloway, trustee of the Budd Sugarman Foundation.

“The wonderful thing about generous people is that they come in and help people in need,” said Antanas Sileika, program coordinator of the Humber School for Writers.
Sileika said scholarships from generous donors such as these are responsible for perpetuating Canadian culture by allowing writing schools to function.

“It’s always been my contention that at Humber, and other writing schools, we make the bricks that build the house of Canadian letters,” he said.

Sileika and Kertes are both on the panel that decides who the recipients of the scholarships will be. Both men said that a winning candidate has to prove some kind of financial need and have great promise as writers.

“It’s a bit like American Idol,” said Kertes. “You know very quickly how talented a writer is from their writing sample.”

These new scholarships are not the only ones available for prospective writing students. Kertes emphasized the Humber School for Writers can support one-quarter of students through scholarships.

Applicants to the School for Writers in financial need who are interested in applying should contact Sileika.