Alum’s print-shop training program makes an impression

York alumnus Andrew Macdonald (MES ’99) doesn’t claim he was born with ink flowing through his veins, wrote The Globe and Mail June 25. But he does have ideas – lots of them – coursing through him.

Where others see crisp business cards and bright pamphlets, Macdonald saw a way to teach homeless and at-risk youth a trade that can launch them into self-sustaining careers.

Today, the 35-year-old social-enterprise innovator – and recipient of a Vital People grant from the Toronto Community Foundation – pumps his passion into the Phoenix Print Shop, a business he helped start seven years ago. “It’s not sexy stuff, but it’s where employers need help,” Macdonald said. “We’re a very practical program.”

His work was celebrated yesterday along with that of 28 other people and organizations awarded grants by the Toronto Community Foundation for their work tackling social challenges.

Macdonald used his $3,500 grant to further his education with a business course at the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Students carrying a heavy load

Krisna Saravanamuttu, 22, knows how hard it is to scrape together enough cash to cover soaring tuition costs, wrote the Toronto Star June 25, in a story about the Actuarial Report on the Canada Student Loan Program. The third-year criminology student at York University is already $20,000 in the hole because of student loans. With his sights set on law school, he expects that debt load to triple to $60,000 by the time he is called to the bar. He deems it “insurmountable.”

He’s not alone. Cash-strapped students will increasingly tap the Canada Student Loan Program to fund post-secondary studies over the next generation, even though the total number of students enrolling in college or university is forecast to decline, according to the report.

Saravanamuttu, grew up in Scarborough’s rough-and- tumble “Bay Mills” neighbourhood and dreams of working for legal aid to help others in his community. His family are Tamil refugees who came to Canada after fleeing Sri Lanka when communal riots erupted in 1983.

“I am extremely worried,” he said. “It was hard enough to get into university because of the background that I had. I grew up essentially in community housing – Metro Toronto community housing – and my parents were welfare recipients. So, I grew up pretty poor.”

His family was unable to finance his education, so Saravanamuttu sought out a student loan. “I really do want to go to law school…but (the debt) is definitely a consideration,” he said. “I think that the sentiment in this country, with the government at least, is that education should be a privilege.”

Globe notes appointment of new fine arts dean

Barbara Sellers-Young is the new dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University, wrote The Globe and Mail June 25 in a column of notes about the arts. She succeeds Phillip Silver on July 1.

On air

  • Anaya Mukherjee-Reed, political science professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, spoke about the impact of globalization on India’s caste system, on TVO’s “The Agenda” June 24.
  • Ricardo Grinspun, economics professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, took part in a panel discussion on the economic impact of the US presidential election, on CTS-TV’s “Michael Coren Live” June 24.