The Esposito family and UFV officials celebrate the donation announcement with some cake. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

The Esposito family and UFV officials celebrate the donation announcement with some cake. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)

SLIDESHOW: Esposito Family donates $1.125 million to UFV

Abbotsford family unveils large donation on Wednesday afternoon

A family whose business was a neighbour to the University of the Fraser Valley for more than 30 years has provided the university with the largest donation in its 44-year history.

The Esposito family of Abbotsford recently donated $1.125 million to UFV to support student scholarships and activities related to innovation and entrepreneurship.

Most of the funding ($1 million) will go to support a centre for innovation and entrepreneurship to be named after the Esposito family. The other $125,000 will be endowed to support annual student awards.

The Espositos (Paul Sr. and his sons Paul Jr. and Frank) ran Finnegan’s Pub and Phoenix Ballroom facilities until this past January when they made the decision to exit the full-service food and beverage business. Their family chose to support UFV because of a long-standing relationship between their businesses and the university.

The family is excited about helping to spark the entrepreneurial spirit in students.

“This is was a way to support the future of Abbotsford and help young people build meaningful lives and careers for themselves,” Paul Sr. noted. “We are looking to inspire growth in others and help them succeed.”

The Espositos employed many UFV students over the decades and also appreciated the customer base that employees and students provided.

“UFV appreciates the strong relationship as neighbours we’ve enjoyed with the Espositos over the years and we are extremely grateful for the generous gift to the university,” said Craig Toews, VP External at UFV. “The legacy of their gift and entrepreneurial spirit will enable our students to leverage their creativity and innovative ideas to change the world and build a stronger better community.”

Frank and Paul Esposito Jr. said that having a centre focused on entrepreneurship named after their family will be an important legacy.

“Being an entrepreneur and taking risks is not for everyone, but entrepreneurs play a very important role in society. They invest in the future and help to stimulate the economy and provide jobs for everyone. We are grateful to have worked out an arrangement that benefits the university and the community.”