“In the past, the Jews were found guilty of everything. Today it’s the refugees…One should never forget how difficult it is to leave behind everything just to survive.” ~ Hanni Levy, a 93-year-old Holocaust survivor from Berlin criticizing anti-migrant hatred during a speech at a Greens party convention in Hannover

ELEVATE Refugees Scholarship is a new program helping refugees gain higher education and/or skills training

ELEVATE Refugees Scholarship is the newest program of Human Rights Society helping refugees in the U.S. get farther in their higher education and/or skills training goals which will lead to being more marketable and gaining higher paying jobs in the workforce. 

A pilot program in Washington state will start in January 2018 and Human Rights Society is currently fast at work building relationships with scholarship benefactor partners (e.g. colleges, vocation schools), refugee communities, resettlement agencies, and other partners to make this program a reality and success. Elevate will offer both scholarships and mentorship throughout the recipients schooling and beyond.


Facts on Refugees

Refugees have been in the news the last few years because of the enormous international crisis happening in Syria and the mass migration happening across Africa and Europe. The United Nations (UN) describes it this way, “An unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home by conflict and persecution at the end of 2016. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees (historical record), over half of whom are under the age of 18…(UN)”

Almost a million refugees have resettled in the U.S. since 2010. Washington state has brought in 16,504 refugees from 46 countries, ranking it 10th of all states in number of refugees (KUOW). 

Watch the below video by the UN to learn more:

Higher paying jobs helps refugee families gain more stability

Why do we need scholarships for refugees?

Even though 25% of refugees have high school education coming into the U.S., comparable to U.S.-born adults (29%) or immigrants (27%), not surprisingly, they earn far lower income. On average, refugees earn only 42% of median U.S. income within the first 5 years of their resettlement and take, generally, 10 years before they catch up to average U.S. citizens. Scholarships can greatly accelerate refugees’ earning potential that will make a big difference in their stability in the U.S. In Washington state, as an example, there are no public refugee scholarship fund. ELEVATE seeks to help close this income gap faster for refugees.


Somalian refugee “Sumaya” attends University of Washington and is an intern at Human Rights Society

Who does Elevate Scholarship help specifically?

Elevate Refugees Scholarship seeks to help young refugee students attend college and also refugee adults enroll in a vocational school to gain skills and technical training so they will be more marketable in the workforce. We think it is a privilege for us at Human Rights Society to help refugees, through our partners, gain education and/or skills to better themselves with higher incomes and not only close the gap of the 10 years average it takes for refugees to earn average income for U.S. citizens but also go above it. And we know helping individual refugees will only help their families become more stable.

Burmese refugee “Shwe” attends University of Washington and volunteer partner of Human Rights Society

How will refugees know about Elevate Refugees Scholarships and apply?

Human Rights Society will work with the 5 resettlement agencies in Washington state and partner with them as well as the refugee communities directly to identify and recruit eligible applicants. Marketing and social media will also be part of the advertising campaign. 

How many scholarships will be awarded?

As many as we can. We would love to see dozens of scholarship opportunities but it will depend on our success to gain scholarships from higher education and vocational school partners as well as fundraising for monetary scholarship awards. At this point, being a new program, we just got started but we did get a commitment already from a technology boot camp (will make announcement soon) in Seattle.

Will Human Rights Society fundraise as well to grant funds in the traditional scholarship manner?

Yes we will fundraise and ask for donations from individuals, organizations, and grants. Currently, Human Rights Society is applying with the IRS for its own 501(c)(3) tax-exempt designation so that it will apply and receive grants from grantmaking foundations as well as donations from individuals and organizations. We will seek donors to give and also set up a crowdfunding platform. In the meantime, Human Rights Society does have a fiscal sponsor so that it can receive donation while giving fully tax-deductible receipt to donors. More info about our fiscal sponsor, go here.


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