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Major gifts

$5.6-million gift to SPARK creative discovery

A transformative gift from the Peter N. Thomson Family Trust became the largest in the history of Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and the largest in Quebec history, towards a university-based fine arts program.

This exceptional $5.6-million support, celebrated on March 14, 2019, supports three key areas across the faculty’s nine departments: graduate student scholarships, field school awards and an arts innovation fund.

“The fine arts are already very much oriented towards the next generation in terms of resilience, creativity, flexibility and entrepreneurship,” said Leslie Raenden, representative of the Peter N. Thomson Family Trust and stepdaughter of the late Peter N. Thomson. “It feels good to know that we’ve spread out the initiatives to have both short- and long-term benefits. We’re going to touch a lot of people.” Pictured are Swapnaa Tamhane, master’s student in the Department of Studio Arts, Rebecca Duclos, dean of Concordia’s Faculty of Fine Arts, and Raenden.

Visionary $10 million donation to support a first-of-its-kind social innovation centre


A visionary gift of $10 million from the Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation and the Amelia & Lino Saputo Jr. Foundation allowed the creation of a first-of-its-kind multi-stakeholder collaboration centre at Concordia.

The new SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will allow Concordia and its partners to drive and support community-based social transformation projects in Montreal, Quebec and Canada. The gift — among the largest in the university’s history — supports the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now.

SHIFT will unite academic knowledge, community-held expertise and entrepreneurial students. Together, they will develop sustainable and transformative solutions to complex societal challenges such as environmental degradation, political polarization, wealth inequality and a rapidly changing labour market.

“Our family takes great pride in supporting this transformative project, since advancing social innovation is a family priority,” said Mirella Saputo, president of Mirella & Lino Saputo Foundation.

Lino A. Saputo Jr., BA 89, co-chair for the Campaign for Concordia, and chair of the board and chief executive officer of Montreal-based Saputo Inc., said this major gift is a pragmatic investment for his family.

“The SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will support tomorrow’s social entrepreneurs to solve critical issues — from the ground up — in partnership with community groups,” he said. “Marrying academia and entrepreneurship with grassroots social innovation at Concordia will go a long way to improving society.”

The new centre will grant resources and accompaniment to projects that link Concordians with community members and groups. Project teams will benefit from hands-on support for grant writing, project management, evaluation and strategic guidance.

“The SHIFT Centre for Social Transformation will allow Concordia to build on its longstanding reputation as a trusted, community-engaged and socially progressive university,” said Concordia President Graham Carr. “The centre, its staff and our students will support underrepresented and overstretched frontline organizations and communities.”

Thanks to this donation, SHIFT will operate from a welcoming, physical space where students, faculty, staff and external community members and groups can train, network, skill-share and collaborate on existing and emerging social transformation initiatives.  

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