Grebel Fund

Students, a source of hope

2020 will no doubt be remembered as a year that tested our optimism. From wildfires and hurricanes, to global unrest triggered by social, economic, and racial inequalities, to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, we’re confronted by an almost overwhelming set of problems.

In a year that has felt hopeless at times, Grebel students have been a great source of hope for me—and maybe for you too. They are creative, collaborative, and committed to applying themselves to the great challenges we all face together. We’ve featured a number of our students in this mailing to give you a sense of their dreams for the future, their work and studies, and how they hope to make a positive difference in the world.

I’m proud of the fact that we have been able to distribute over $500,000 annually in student bursaries and scholarships over the past few years. The cost of higher education continues to climb, and scholarships and bursaries help our students manage student debt. Most of this student aid is provided through the annual Grebel Fund, which also supports other programs that do not receive government support.

This year, the pandemic has cut sharply into our normal revenues, and we need a little more help than usual to provide that support.

We hope you will consider a donation to the Grebel Fund during this difficult year. Your gift is an investment in talented students whose hearts and minds are fixed on the future, with hope.


Marcus Shantz

Marcus Shantz

CoinsOur goal for the 2020-21 Grebel Fund is $360,000. Our fiscal year-end is April 30
Help us go all the way!

Making the Best of our Situation

The September start-up at Grebel this year has been like no other! With 102 students living in the residence and apartments, plus more than 70 virtual residents and associates, students have found countless creative ways to build a vibrant community.

Residents are excited when they gather to eat in the dining room, although they are separated by vinyl barriers for public health reasons. Student Council and other leaders are setting an exceptional example and creating a fun, safe, and welcoming space during the pandemic.

Grebel and UWaterloo faculty are providing students with the best remote courses possible and making sure that everyone has the resources needed for a successful term. The Music Department in particular is pushing traditional boundaries, as they offer seven ensembles online, emphasizing collaboration, team-work, and instrumental and vocal technique. Enrolment has increased from last year, in both undergraduate and graduate classes, and the Master of Theological Studies program has its largest enrolment with 39 students, almost half of which are new this fall.

COVID-19 has created many extra expenses and reduced our income. Because our residence was closed this summer we lost revenue from students as well as conference rentals. The pandemic has reduced our residence to 50% capacity which also has impacted our revenue this fall.

The FY21 budget backstory

Charities and organizations are fiscally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in different ways.  Some have accessed government programs for budget support, some have leveraged insurance claims and some have had declining revenue without corresponding decreases in expenses. Grebel’s case is the latter.

$1.7M in Revenue Reduction from FY20

Because we receive 23% of our revenue from a government grant, we did not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) or any other government subsidies. 

Our residence is operating with only one student per room. Last year revenue from residence fees was over $2M in revenue. This will be cut in half because we were closed in the spring term and only at 50% for fall and winter terms. Ancillary income from parking, food services and rentals is drastically reduced. For example, our summer conference program that usually generates almost $150k rental revenue was $0.   

Tuition makes up 30% of our revenue and we’ve been pleased by strong enrolments this year.  However, because of an undergraduate tuition freeze and reductions of funding for our graduate programs, this revenue will not increase.

Operating Expenses reduced by $1.1M from FY20

When we saw this financial crisis coming, the employees at Grebel received a wage freeze and many of our front-line staff were temporarily laid off during the shut-down phase in spring. Employees laid off in the spring were only able to access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and Grebel topped up the CERB, as permissible, for these employees.

We have experienced some savings in utilities, travel, and raw food costs.  But COVID-19 protocols have increased our labour and supply expenses as well. Moving to remote teaching has also increased our expenses and been challenging for our instructors.

Departments have made as many operating cuts as possible to program expenses.

Each year we designate some operating funding to our students for scholarship awards. Because we prioritize financial support to students in difficult times, we have actually increased this by $24,100 to $249,100.

We also require $320,000 to cover building and capital expenses for regular maintenance and repairs.

Bottom line

At this point in November, we anticipate a deficit of $400,000 in FY21.


Doesn’t fundraising cover the operating deficit?

We have increased our annual Grebel Fund target to $360,000.  Hitting this goal still leaves a deficit. Exceeding this target will help reduce it.

Is the new kitchen project causing an operating deficit?

This project is not part of the building and capital expenses in FY21.  We are on track for $7.5m in budgeted expenses. We have allocated $1m from reserves and have raised over $4m.  We are exploring other financing options for the remaining $2.5m in expenses.

Do you have Reserves?

Yes, we have healthy Reserves but we have dipped into this for the kitchen project as well as creating barrier free washrooms in our residence. We don’t want to go too much further into these Reserves for this year, as we may require some in the future.

In Closing

We thank you for your interest and concern for the fiscal health of our College.  We are grateful for your consideration for supporting Grebel with a charitable donation at this time.

To learn more about how your gift will impact Grebel students, contact: Fred W. Martin, Director of Advancement. 
519-885-0220 x24381

Make your donation

  • Online donations can be designated to Grebel through the University of Waterloo (please select "Conrad Grebel University College" in the drop-down menu).
  • Donations should be made payable to:
    Conrad Grebel University College,
    140 Westmount Road North,
    Waterloo, Ontario, Canada N2L 3G6

Donate online

Make a credit card donation on Grebel's pledge page.  Simply select the fund at Grebel you wish to support and fill in your details. Your receipt for online donations will come from the University of Waterloo.  Thanks!

Grebel Fund Goal update

As of April 30 we have exceeded our goal of $360,000 with $400,000 in donations! Thanks for your generous support of our students and programs at this difficult time!  

Your Donations at Work


a music student with sheet music speaks with an instructor at a piano in the grebel chapel

Donations augment the Music program by providing resources for Noon Hour Concerts.

Peace and Conflict Studies

a master of peace and conflict studies student speaks with a professor at a table with various binders and props

Support is required for our new Masters in PACS.

Student Leadership

A student smiles at the camera

Donations provide funds for student leadership development that is the core of Grebel community life.

Mennonite Studies

a photo of the brubacher house, a field stone house with large trees nearby

Donations support research and Mennonite Studies events.

Library and Archives

A man looks at an old bible with a maginifying glass at the Grebel library

Library and Archives activities rely on support from donors.

Theological Studies

A student meets with a professor in front of a colourful bookshelf. The two are looking at a book

Donations support pastoral training and graduate Theological Studies.

Centre for Peace Advancement

A view of the centre of peace advancement

Donations are key in running the Kindred Credit Union Centre for Peace Advancement.

Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre

TMTC building

Grebel also administers the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre, which provides theological training for doctoral students.