Viral Nation CEO Joe Gagliese Establishes the Young Entrepreneur Scholarship in Partnership With the University of Toronto

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The innovative scholarship fund provides financial support to founders and entrepreneurs studying at one of Canada’s leading universities

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Joe Gagliese, Co-founder and CEO of the global social media technology company Viral Nation, has established The Young Entrepreneur Scholarship (YES) aimed to support students who are founders of their own businesses and pursuing post-secondary programs at the University of Toronto (U of T). Having experienced first-hand the difficulties of balancing entrepreneurship and academia, Gagliese hopes the YES will enable students to reach all their goals by easing the financial constraints that come with high education.

“When I was in university, I felt it added a lot of value, but regretfully I never finished school because my businesses started to take over my time and interests. It can be hard to balance those factors and priorities as a young person,” said Gagliese. “I want to create a space and a system of support for students who are focusing on their entrepreneurial pursuits alongside their degrees. That’s the one thing I never had at that critical junction in my life—that would have made all the difference.”

Unlike traditional scholarships, YES has no grade, or GPA, requirement and is based instead primarily on recipients’ entrepreneurial merit. Recipients must have an operational business, meet the academic baseline requirement of passing set by the university (i.e. remain in good standing), and be enrolled as full-time students to receive support. These unique components set the YES apart from other financial supports currently available at U of T. YES provides students with the flexibility and incentive to reach their business goals while completing a degree that will further their knowledge and personal growth.

“The Young Entrepreneurs Scholarship is a wonderful opportunity for students to combine their passion for entrepreneurship with access to the world-class education that U of T provides, without being overly limited by the stress or barriers of financial constraints. We are very grateful to Joe Gagliese for believing and investing in young people at U of T and, by extension, the innovators of tomorrow who would lead transformative change for the good of all,” said Wisdom Tettey, Vice-President of the University of Toronto and principal of the University of Toronto Scarborough. “YES will provide our students with the support needed to pursue their dual interest in entrepreneurship and world-class education, to unleash their creative abilities, and to make valuable contributions to the broader society as innovators, critically-minded citizens, and leaders in the economy.”

Starting in Spring 2023, University of Toronto students across all programs including U of T Scarborough Management school are eligible to be YES recipients. Gagliese’s long-term vision for the scholarship is to see it evolve into a larger program and fund that invests in recipients’ ventures. In turn, successful ventures will reinvest in the educational portion of the program, creating a virtuous cycle that supports underrecognized and deserving entrepreneurs across North America and celebrates simultaneously the value of post-secondary education and true entrepreneurial talent.

Gagliese has committed a total of $200,000 to YES over the next two years with U of T matching his contribution dollar-for-dollar through the True Blue Program. For more information and how eligible applicants can apply, visit:

About Joe Gagliese

Joe Gagliese is Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Viral Nation, a global social media technology company that powers the social ecosystem through integrated solutions that align strategy, talent, media, and technology. Viral Nation works with tens of thousands of influencers across the social landscape and fuels growth for the world's leading brands, including Amazon Prime,
The Coca Cola Company, Hasbro, Meta, Oculus, Sonos, Tencent, Walmart and Uber.

A recognized expert in influencer marketing and social technologies, Joe is regularly cited in outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, WIRED, CNBC, Vox, Business Insider, Forbes, and Inc. Joe is the first Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Toronto.

About the University of Toronto

Founded in 1827, the University of Toronto has evolved into Canada's leading institution of learning, discovery, and knowledge creation. We are proud to be one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, driven to invent and innovate. U of T students have the opportunity to learn from and work with preeminent thought leaders through our multidisciplinary network of teaching and research faculty, alumni, and partners. The ideas, innovations, and actions of more than 640,000 graduates continue to have a positive impact in the world.

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