NEW YORK, March 19, 2012—The Emergency Student Fund of the Institute of International Education (IIE) will make 46 grants to assist Syrian students on U.S. college and university campuses who face urgent financial need due to the current situation in Syria. These grants are made possible in part by generous support from members of the Syrian-American community who share IIE’s commitment to helping Syrian students to remain enrolled in their U.S. degree programs so they will be better prepared to assist their country in the future.
IIE received 51 nominations from 39 colleges and universities in 21 states across the United States. This represents approximately 10 percent of the Syrian students currently studying in the United States. The nominees are from every level of higher education, from intensive English programs to medical scholars pursuing research fellowships. Many are Master’s degree students in science and technology fields. All are facing situations in which families at home can no longer help fund their studies because their cities are under siege, they have had to flee the country, or they are no longer able to work due to the political upheaval.
After putting out a call for nominations in February, IIE received twice as many nominations as it was able to support. The Institute reached out to Jusoor, a newly-founded organization focused on mobilizing the global Syrian expatriate community around Syrian economic development initiatives, and the American Syrian Arab Cultural Association (ASACA), a non-profit, non-political, social, cultural and educational organization. Contributions from donors associated with Jusoor and ASACA, as well as the Foundation of the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), have enabled IIE to provide additional grants.
Priority was given to the 46 nominated students who are currently enrolled in fulltime degree programs and have demonstrated substantial need. As part of the nomination and award process, U.S. host colleges and universities are being asked to contribute to the support of the selected Syrian students through provision of tuition waivers, loans, housing, meal plans, or other forms of support.
Peggy Blumenthal, Senior Counselor to the President of IIE, announced the initial selection results at the Institute’s annual conference on “Best Practices in Internationalizing the Campus,” speaking to an audience of nearly 200 college and university leaders. IIE’s annual conference convened international education professionals from eight countries and 30 states at IIE’s New York headquarters on March 9. The Syrian Emergency Student Fund was also discussed at a pre-conference roundtable on “The Arab Spring and Helping to Build Higher Education Capacity in the Middle East and North Africa.”
“We were gratified to see the Syrian-American community demonstrate such timely and heartfelt support for students from Syria who face urgent needs,” said Ms. Blumenthal. “These donors share our commitment to the importance of education, and IIE’s Emergency Student Fund is an efficient way to help U.S.-based students from Syria at this critical time. The goal is to leverage community and university resources, in combination with IIE funds, so that these needy students can remain in their studies through the end of this semester at least. Many will be graduating this spring now that they have sufficient funds to complete their studies.”
Rania Succar, a founding member of Jusoor, said, “The Syrian American community is truly grateful to the IIE for supporting Syrian students, especially during this very trying time for our country. The education these students are receiving has the potential to have a remarkable impact on the future of Syria – not only through what they learn in the classroom, but also through what they take back with them from their experience in the US. These students represent hope, and we are very glad we had the opportunity to support them.”
Since 2010, IIE’s Emergency Student Fund has provided over $1 million in emergency grants to nearly 400 students from Japan, Haiti, Libya, and Thailand whose home sources of financial support were impacted by crises or natural disasters in their home countries. The Institute created the Emergency Student Fund to respond quickly to help students when emergencies arise. Building on a Freeman Foundation designation of $2.5 million for emergencies involving students from East and Southeast Asia studying in the U.S., IIE is issuing a request to donors to support this fund for other world areas.
Institute of International Education
Founded in 1919, the Institute of International Education (IIE) is a private not-for-profit leader in the international exchange of people and ideas. In collaboration with governments, foundations and other sponsors and donors, IIE creates programs of study and training for students, educators and professionals from all sectors. These programs include the flagship Fulbright Program and Gilman Scholarships administered for the U.S. Department of State. IIE conducts policy research and provides a range of information resources on international exchange. The Institute’s Emergency Student Fund and Scholar Rescue Fund provide support to students and scholars in danger.
American Syrian Arab Cultural Association
The American Syrian Arab Cultural Association is a non-profit, non-political, social, cultural and educational organization. Founded in 1996, ASACA has a core mission of promoting the Arabic culture and heritage to our communities and friends in the United States. ASACA aspires to orient and acquaint the American public with the rich Arabic culture and heritage, and to strengthen the ties of its community members and its youth by promoting and sponsoring educational, cultural, artistic and musical events that bring a better understanding of the Arab American community and the positive role it is playing in enriching the American life.