Amanda Glean has a dream, a 19-page business plan, grants and pitch competitions under her belt. The Humber College Cosmetic Management student has just one semester left and knows she’s acquired the skills to launch her dream business as a spa heath facilitator because of Humber.
There are many stories like Glean’s. So many, in fact, that helping similar dreams come true was the inspiration for the Longo Family Foundation to invest $5 million in individuals just like Glean. The gift will support scholarships, entrepreneurship programming and provide increased opportunities for Humber students to develop the skills and experience that will set them apart on the road to success.
The donation will be instrumental in paving the way for a new generation of entrepreneurs while also strengthening economies and building up communities.
In recognition of this gift, The Longo Faculty of Business (Longo Business) and the Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship (Longo CfE) now bear the well-known Canadian family name. This marks the first time that Humber has named a Faculty.
“What I love about Humber is that it has a polytechnic model of education, so it blends both the practical elements of being in the working world with the academic side,” says Anthony Longo, president and CEO, Longo’s. “As a result, there are career-ready graduates with differentiated skill sets that will allow them to thrive in today’s business landscape. As a Humber graduate myself, I know that they are well suited to deliver on this important work and fuel the next generation of business leaders.”
Longo’s was started as a neighborhood fruit market in 1956 by three brothers trying to make better lives for their families. The company has since grown into a thriving business with 36 locations and Grocery Gateway, a leading e-commerce platform.
The Longo Family Foundation has a vision to contribute to a world of strong, healthy families where all children and youth can reach their full potential.
“As community business leaders, we have a responsibility to lead by example and help lift up the next generation by creating stronger communities in the areas we serve, and beyond” said Rosanne Longo, spokesperson and brand ambassador for Longo’s and chair of the Longo Family Foundation.
Anthony Longo attended Humber, graduated in 1982, and has since served as Chair of Humber’s Board of Governors and Co-Chair of Unlimited - the College’s first-ever fundraising campaign. Many members of the Longo family are also former Humber alumni.
He says the Longo family is proud of this gift to Humber because of the impact it could have on thousands of students as they strive to meet their goals.
“My father started the business when he was only 22 years old, and his brothers were younger than that. They had a vision and their parents encouraged them to pursue it. Without this support and encouragement, Longo’s would never have been born,” said Anthony Longo. “For the future, we have to work together to create a positive environment where people like my father are supported and fueled to move their vision to reality. This is the formula for success and we are proud to be a part of that with this gift.”
This gift will also support programming that fosters leadership, small business expertise and entrepreneurial skills in students.
“This gift builds on Humber’s long-standing relationship with the Longo family that has benefited students for years,” said Chris Whitaker, president and CEO, Humber College. “We are proud to continue to work with the Longo Family Foundation to help prepare students for success while in their programs and in preparation for their careers as business leaders and entrepreneurs.”
“We are grateful for this transformational gift from the Longo Family Foundation and know that students will benefit from the financial support and programming provided, as well as the knowledge that a leading Canadian company has recognized their unlimited potential,” says Alvina Cassiani, senior dean, Longo Faculty of Business.
Glean is a first-generation graduate in her family and is a mature student at Humber. While she didn’t have much in the way of financial resources when she began her post-secondary journey, she made a promise to herself to take advantage of every opportunity that was presented to her.
She has been a regular participant in Longo CfE programming, including the Women’s Incubator Accelerator program, the Longo Be Your Own Boss Pitch Competition and the BMO Launch Me Pitch Competition.
She is happy to learn students will now have even more opportunities to choose from and welcomes the Longo Family Foundation’s investment in their success.
“It means they’re invested in youth. It means they’re invested in the communities in which they operate their business, in their employees and the network that is our community. By providing us with opportunity, it enables us to go on and to do greater things and to reach out a hand for the next person to help them to benefit not just the Humber community, but the whole world,” she says.
Humber student Nathalie Gomez, also a member of the Longo CfE, recently participated in the Longo Be Your Own Boss competition and completed the Innovate and Create Entrepreneurship program.
She notes that her experience at Humber, particularly the Longo CfE, has changed her personally and professionally. She says that the Longo Family Foundation’s gift demonstrates that they want students to “fight for their dreams.”
“This gift will benefit many students who have a business idea, but do not have the resources to start it. It expands the possibilities of student companies and makes goals that seem big - achievable.” says Gomez. “The Longo [Family Foundation] sees the potential of this generation of entrepreneurs and knows that the growth and possibilities of future companies are endless.”