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Grocery magnate’s family donates $6.5-million to support higher education in Nova Scotia

Money donated by the Sobeys family will go toward funding up to 120 bursaries for students at Nova Scotia Community College, many of whom may not have had an opportunity to attend otherwise.

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The donors: The Sobey family

The gift: $6.5-million

The cause: Nova Scotia Community College

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The reason: To fund bursaries

When Frank Sobey founded the Sobeys Inc. grocery-store chain in the 1930s, he didn't have a high-school education and his son, Donald, became the first family member to attend university.

Now branches of the Sobey family, which still controls the company through Stellarton, N.S.,-based Empire Co. Ltd., have banded together to donate a total of $6.5-million to Nova Scotia Community College which has 13 campuses across the province.

The money will fund bursaries for up to 120 students annually, and most of the awards will be aimed at students who face barriers preventing them from attending college.

Social agencies and police will help identify some potential recipients and a portion of the bursaries will be targeted to specific regions to ensure the entire province is covered properly.

The ability to help families who have never had someone go to a postsecondary institution "really struck with dad," said Donald Sobey's son, Robert, who is spearheading a campaign to raise $25-million for NSCC.

"Our soft goal is to break patterns and just open the door, just give these folks more options … It just feels like the right thing to do."

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