Removing Barriers to Creativity through A Unique Scholarship



The arts and other forms of creativity can have profound individual social outcomes and generate a deeper sense of place and local community.1 Children often face barriers to access because of their circumstances, and through no fault of their own. Our data shows that across Canada, at least 1 in 3 youth mentees in our programs reported exposure to financial stress at home.  Without the means, they may never experience opportunities in recreation and the arts.

That’s why Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada is thrilled to once again partner with Animation Portfolio Workshop (APW) to provide a unique scholarship opportunity for Big Brothers Big Sisters youth. Not all heroes wear capes. The O’Keefe Art Scholarship is designed to empower aspiring young artists.  For the young recipient, this scholarship removes barriers and creates an opening to a bright future. It also connects this young Canadian with a relatable role model, Patrick O’Keefe.

Patrick is a former “Little”, Toronto-born, Los Angeles-based illustrator and art director. In preparation for his post-secondary studies, Patrick enrolled in the Animation Portfolio Workshop (APW). After working with APW directors Gerard Sternik and Vincent Peets, Patrick soon discovered that this program would become the beginning of a lifelong pursuit of art, hard work, and mentorship that would lay the foundation of discipline for a career as a commercial artist. After completing the APW program, Patrick studied illustration at Sheridan College before transferring to the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where he received his Bachelor of Media Arts in Film and Animation Design. Most recently, Patrick served as an art director on Sony Pictures Oscar winning animation feature film Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse, which was released in December 2018.

As a former Little whose potential was ignited by mentorship, this incredible scholarship opportunity arose from Patrick’s desire to give back to the community that gave so much to him. The goal of the O’Keefe Scholarship is to provide an opportunity for youth that have the power and potential to pursue their craft and empower them with the means to ignite their full potential.

“It is important that we foster creativity and support young artists as they hone their craft,” explains Patrick O’Keefe. “I am the product of great mentoring, both from the profound relationship with my Big and the generous artists that I have been so lucky to have collaborated with. I am grateful to have the opportunity with BBBSC and APW to help remove the barriers that would prevent a young artist from discovering their passion.”

We are excited to announce this year’s O’Keefe Scholarship recipient:

Mentee, Hamish, of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Langley!

Through our partnership with Animation Portfolio Workshop (APW) to provide this incredible opportunity, the O’Keefe Art Scholarship consists of full tuition for one Session of the Animation Portfolio Workshop, including all required art materials. Patrick will also be providing a private online coaching and mentoring component, consisting of one session per month for the duration of the APW Session.

  1. Mulligan, M. et al. (2006). Creating Community: Celebrations, Arts and Wellbeing Within and Across Local Communities. Melbourne, Australia: Globalism Institute, RMIT University