Almost 26,000 scholarships have been granted since the beginning of the program, including nearly 18,000 for the first year of studies.
From the beginning “Bridge Scholarships”, initiated by PAFF, was a joint undertaking of many partners. Now the scholarships are financed by the Polish-American Freedom Foundation, the National Bank of Poland, the Rural Development Foundation, and the BNP Paribas Foundation. Also engaged is a coalition of 80 or so local non-governmental organizations. The program is carried out with organizational help from the National Support Center for Agriculture (formerly the Agricultural Property Agency), and in cooperation with the Professor Bronisław Geremek Center and the Shipyard Foundation. So far the Partners have provided more than PLN 123 million for the program. Almost 26,000 scholarships have been granted since the beginning of the program, including nearly 18,000 for the first year of studies.
The “Diploma of Dreams” campaign, which aims to encourage and support more local non-governmental organizations to take up similar scholarship initiatives aligned with the “Bridge Scholarships” concept, has resulted in engaging another 153 NGOs in helping more than 6,500 students since 2006.
After several years the program transformed into a complex scholarship system, offering much more than a stipend for the first year of studies. Today the scholarship holders who do well in their academic pursuits have a chance for assistance in successive years of study. For the second year they may enter the Top Student competition; they may apply for corporate scholarships for their third and fourth years, or a scholarship under the Study Abroad initiative, as well as doctoral scholarships. Additionally, the program offers language scholarships, workshops preparing scholarship holders for entering the job market and challenges of the digitalized world, and annual Scientific Start conferences.
There are also summer internships in the USA organized in cooperation with the Embassy of the United States in Warsaw (the Polish-American Internship Initiative – PAII). In the years 2011–2019, 111 students completed internships in thirteen corporations, such as:
Boeing, Chevron North America, Citigroup, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, MoneyGram, Pittsburgh Glass Works LLC, Raytheon BBN Technologies, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, Westinghouse Electric Company, or Discovery Inc. Additionally, thanks to cooperation with the Transatlantic Future Leaders Forum, 46 students did their internships at the United States Congress.
In the past one of the program segments offered scientific scholarships to the best performing young people from small towns and villages who studied economics at non-state universities and private business schools. Between 2001 and 2014 nearly 7,000 such scholarships were granted.
Surveys conducted among program graduates show that 98% believe their bridge scholarship significantly improved their financial standing during studies. 90% of scholarship holders achieve good or very good academic results, 70% finish their studies on time, and only 4% discontinued their studies.
Last year, because of the pandemic, all substantial program operations were shifted online, internships with the Polish-American Internship Initiative were suspended, and the Scientific Start conference did not take place.
The Bridge Scholarships Program enables PAFF to support the development of scholarships and volunteer services carried out by the Good Network Foundation, which among other things runs the My Scholarship (www.mojestypendium.pl) website – the largest Polish website about scholarships.
“Rzeczpospolita”, “Forum Akademickie”, “Perspektywy” and the dlaStudenta.pl website provide media sponsorship for the program.
The Foundation has disbursed $27,200,536 in grants, including $771,772 for the current edition of the program.