BMO Financial Group
BMO Financial Group has a long history of generous donations to the University of Toronto that have improved access to higher education for students and fuelled the growth and expansion of the Rotman School of Management.
As Canada’s first bank, BMO Financial Group has played a pivotal role in the development of many national institutions, transforming lives and lifting communities through higher education.
BMO, which celebrated its bicentennial in 2017, is one of the University of Toronto’s oldest donors. The company has collaborated with the University to open up pathways for students and build state-of-the-art facilities, with more than $14 million in charitable contributions.
BMO’s giving commitments include a contribution of $3 million in 1996, matched by the University and the province of Ontario to create the BMO National Scholars Program for exceptional Canadian students to attend U of T. Since its launch, the program has supported hundreds of students across a broad range of fields.
In 2010, BMO donated $2.5 million to support the expansion and renovation of the Rotman School of Management and to improve access to higher education for students from disadvantaged communities or non-traditional educational backgrounds. Part of that donation helped to create the BMO Financial Group Finance Research and Trading Lab, a vital teaching and research space that combines some of the most advanced computer hardware with sophisticated financial analysis software and databases.
BMO’s 2010 gift also created the BMO Financial Group Access to Higher Education Awards, a needs-based program supporting students who successfully complete one of U of T’s two flagship access programs—the Transitional Year Program or the Millie Rotman Shime Academic Bridging Program at Woodsworth College.
In 2017, BMO honoured its outgoing CEO William Downe, a graduate of U of T’s MBA program and a dedicated volunteer, by establishing the William A. Downe BMO Chair in Finance at the Rotman School.
In 2019, a $5-million gift from BMO—the largest BMO has ever made to a single institution—established the BMO Lab for Creative Research in the Arts, Performance, Emerging Technologies and AI at U of T’s Centre for Drama, Theatre & Performance Studies in the Faculty of Arts & Science. As the first centre in the world to investigate artificial intelligence through the arts, the BMO Lab explores how new technologies advance artistic expression and enables creative artists to provide engineers with unique feedback on technologies under development, while supporting global artists to introduce exciting emerging technologies to the public.
In 2023, BMO gave generously to inclusion initiatives at the University. A $250,000 gift supported the Indigenous House project at U of T Scarborough, a dedicated and culturally reflective space for Indigenous community members to gather, connect and feel at home. In addition, BMO gave $1.5 million to the Institute for Gender and the Economy at the Rotman School of Management, funding five BMO GATE MBA Fellowships and supporting research in important areas such as behavioural interventions to create inclusive organizations and global collaboration on the care economy.
In addition to these gifts directly to the University, BMO Financial Group has also generously supported hospitals affiliated with U of T. In 2017, the bank announced a $21-million gift to seven academic hospitals affiliated with U of T’s Faculty of Medicine in support of advancing science, research and the enhancement of patient care.
The connections run deeper still with a great many graduates moving on to careers at BMO and with many prominent members of the U of T community also serving in executive roles at the bank. These include, among others, Downe, former CEO Tony Comper (BA 1966 SMC, Hon LLD 1999) and U of T Chancellor Rose Patten (Hon LLD 2009). U of T President Emeritus J. Robert S. Prichard (LLB 1975) has served as Chairman of BMO’s board. Along with these ties comes a long and proud tradition of U of T alumni at BMO giving back individually to their alma mater—adding many more points of connection between two important national institutions, with benefits for all Canadians.