Frantz Saintellemy has spoken publicly on several occasions about the importance of helping one another, and his philanthropic commitment to promoting entrepreneurship and innovation is well known. In particular, he co-founded Groupe 3737, an accelerator incubator for entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, which has supported more than 1,000 of them since its inception in 2012. It was only natural, therefore, that in Spring 2022 Paul Desmarais III and Laurent Ferreira invited him to join the Centraide of Greater Montreal campaign team. As co-chair, Mr. Saintellemy oversees advertising for crown corporations and public bodies, a role tailored for the man who has been Chancellor of the Université de Montréal since 2021.
“It is impossible to be insensitive to poverty. From the moment we realize that people in the community are suffering, we cannot remain indifferent,” he asserts. For residents of the greater Montreal area, that’s 800,000 people living in poverty, not to mention all those who don’t dare say they’re in trouble and who toil in silence. “It’s still one in five people,” says Frantz Saintellemy.
The entrepreneur is particularly sensitive to Centraide’s approach to combating poverty and exclusion. “Take the example of food shortages, Centraide doesn’t just give food,” he explains. Centraide goes further by working in neighborhoods with local organizations to equip and support frontline workers to combat the elements that lead to food shortages.
The Chancellor also establishes a connection between the mission of Centraide and that of the universities in general and the UdeM in particular. “A research university like ours also helps to find solutions to the causes of poverty,” he says. Of course, several members of the university’s teaching, student and research communities already work with organizations supported by Centraide.
Even if we as individuals are fortunate not to suffer from it, poverty and social exclusion affect us all.
— Frantz Saintellemy, Chancellor of the University of Montreal
A call for donations to members of the UdeM community
Frantz Saintellemy appeals to members of the UdeM community to show even more generosity at this post-pandemic time, which is proving particularly difficult. “Sometimes it just takes a few things to change someone’s life: losing a job, an illness, the death of a spouse… It can be people close to us, people we work with but balanced walk a very fine line and are therefore very vulnerable to the unexpected,” he notes.
Not to mention that Centraide addresses multiple issues. “Centraide is an umbrella organization. Whether we care about the needs of young people, the elderly, or sick or malnourished children, Centraide is committed to supporting organizations working in areas of action that speak to us,” adds Frantz Saintellemy.
And the Chancellor reminds us that no donation is too small: “For a young person who goes to school on an empty stomach, $10 changes their day.”
Move forward by looking at where we’ve come from
Never losing sight of the fact that he could have been one of those people who live in constant uncertainty, Frantz Saintellemy recounts his own experiences in a large family raised by a single mother. “At home, once we were old enough to talk and walk, we had to find ways to be self-sufficient. You had to work to earn money, but all this at the risk of hindering your academic success!” If some like him will manage to emerge from a socio-economic reality that is not conducive to study, unfortunately so will many not the case. “The social and collective costs of poverty are enormous,” he laments.
The trained engineer says he likes philanthropy because he likes complex problems, but it’s also a way for him to remember his origins. “The public education I received, millions of Quebecers contributed to it. So I have a certain moral responsibility to give back on my part,” he says.
If Frantz Saintellemy is already one of Centraide’s main donors on his own behalf, his new role as campaign co-chair allows him to donate in other ways. “I give the most valuable thing I have: my time,” says the entrepreneur, university chancellor and father of three.
Although it is possible to donate to Centraide year-round, November 18 is the last day to count donations for the Université de Montréal campaign. Join now!