Coquitlam Foundation and local family unveil new education fund

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

COQUITLAM – The Coquitlam Foundation and the Safaya family of Coquitlam are pleased to announce the establishment of the Steps Together Fund, whose primary goal is to help local students advance their education.

Dale Clarke, Executive Director of the foundation, explains the fund may also provide grants to institutions or organizations undertaking projects or work, primarily in Coquitlam, that will benefit Coquitlam residents.

Ravinder Safaya says and he and his wife, Achla Safaya, were inspired to establish the Steps Together Fund by their parents, who placed a high value on education. “What they told all their children,” Mr. Safaya says, “is that education is the key which will help you to progress in life, which will broaden your outlook, and which will give you tools to succeed in any condition. Education is the key to success.”

He says that when he and his family arrived in Canada in 1989, after having lived in Indonesia and India, “education was the one [thing] which helped us to settle down quickly—both the exposure [to people and ideas] and the skills that we had through higher education.”

A trained engineer, Mr. Safaya also holds a Masters of Business Administration; he is currently self-employed and works in international pulp and paper sales. Mrs. Safaya holds a doctorate in zoology. Their children have followed their lead: one has earned a Masters in Engineering; another is pursuing post-graduate schooling.

Mr. Safaya says that, while the fund is starting out modestly with $2,500 in seed money, he hopes it will one day be self-sustaining. “We don’t have [a lot of] extra money, but we know how important education is,” he says, “so we want to help out some of the youth who are driven but lack the resources to pursue higher education. I am doing it mainly to give back to society, which we all have to do in our lives, because society gives us so much.”

He adds that, in giving back to society, he is following the teachings of Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the late Indian spiritual leader.

Two other recently created donor-advised funds, the Wesbild LIFT Fund and the Trevor Wingrove Bursary Fund, are also aimed at helping local students pursue post-secondary education.

The Coquitlam Foundation manages a portfolio worth $2.3 million, comprising 19 donor-advised and nine foundation-directed funds. Its annual Awards Night will take place June 4 at the Evergreen Cultural Centre. Last year, the foundation distributed more than $90,000 in grants, scholarships and bursaries.

The Coquitlam Foundation is pleased to accept donations to the Steps Together Fund or any of its other funds, c/o P.O. Box 2, 1207 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, V3B 7Y3, or through its website, www.coquitlamfoundation.com. The Coquitlam Foundation is registered with Canada Revenue as a charitable organization, No. 890762347 RR0001.