In 2010, Dr. Emoke Szathmary, the past president of the University of Manitoba, introduced Ron to Dr. Verna Kirkness who was widely regarded as the leading Indigenous educator in Canada. She was supportive of foundation's goal and agreed to lend her name to the foundation which was renamed the Verna J. Kirkness Education Foundation.
In 2013, the Foundation expanded the scientific scope of its program to include research in both science and engineering and renamed the program the "Verna J. Kirkness Science and Engineering Education Program".
From 2012-2014, the Program was offered at the University of Manitoba. In 2015, a Program was added at the University of Saskatchewan and in 2016 at the University of British Columbia.
In 2018, the Program expanded to the University of Calgary, First Nations University of Canada and the University of Ottawa. In 2019, Programs were added at the University of Victoria and University of Alberta bringing the number of programs to 8. 130 students from across Canada attended the 2019 Programs and were mentored by 53 Professors and their research associates.
Verna Kirkness with students at the University of Manitoba