Halifax-based Tribe Network, the industry group that supports racialized entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada, has announced a new scholarship program under a collaboration with Saint Mary’s University to help Black and Indigenous students break into the fields of commerce, computer science and data analytics.

The initiative will include two streams, one for undergraduates and one for graduates. Undergraduate applicants must be planning to major in computer science or computing and information systems, and winners will be eligible for $5,000 per year for up to three years. Graduates, meanwhile, must be studying a discipline involving computing and analytics, and will receive $10,000 annually.

“This is a program that will empower students and create a pathway for underrepresented, racialized students to get access to quality education … and then internship opportunities, as well,” said Tribe CEO Alfred Burgesson in an interview.

“The beauty in a program like this is that it creates a pipeline of talent that can go into startups that we’re working with in the ecosystem.”

The deal represent’s the organization’s third partnership announcement with a fellow startup ecosystem player this year, complementing a joint-project with Volta to create an accelerator for BIPOC entrepreneurs and a funding deal with Emera to back Tribe’s grant program.

Between 2020 and 2023, Burgesson’s team administered about $400,000 worth of funding to support BIPOC founders, including $200,000 that went directly to young companies. Most of the organization’s members are either entrepreneurs or students, in about equal measure, the organization estimates. Industry professionals also represent a smaller, but still meaningful cohort.

“There’s a lot of talent within our region, within post-secondary institutions, and we think that by building a pipeline and pathway programs, this will benefit founders,” said Burgesson, himself a SMU alum.

He added that hiring recent university graduates is often an especially appealing proposition for startup founders, not just because they can alleviate pressure on employers in a tight talent market, but also because their work is often eligible for funding, such as from national research non-profit Mitacs. Nova Scotia’s Graduate to Opportunity program is another example.

“SMU also has a track record of producing quality talent through programs like MTEI (Master of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation), we’ve had several people on our team come from that program, and we’ve seen the quality of those individuals,” he said.