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This program was launched in 2002 in response to the significant and persistent problem of the disparity in access to higher education between urban and rural youth. The underlying concept of this initiative was to help talented young people from villages and small towns, especially former state-owned farm areas, in making the decision to begin university studies by offering them first-year scholarships.
The Bridge Scholarships Program is the joint effort of many partners. At present, the scholarships are financed by the National Bank of Poland, the Rural Development Foundation, the BNP Paribas Foundation and the Polish-American Freedom Foundation. A coalition of almost 90 local NGOs is among the program’s partners. The initiative is implemented with the organizational assistance of the National Support Center for Agriculture (former Agricultural Property Agency), and in cooperation with the Professor Bronisław Geremek Center and the „Shipyard” Foundation – Center for Social Innovation and Research. For 20 rounds of the program the Partners have disbursed over PLN 130 million. The Manager of the Program is the Educational Enterprise Foundation.
A bridge scholarship for the 1st year course is PLN 7,000 paid in 10 monthly installments over an academic year. High-achieving scholarship holders are eligible for support in successive years of study: the „Top Student” competition is open for sophomores, while juniors and seniors can apply for corporate scholarships. Doctoral, language and „Study Abroad” scholarships are also available.
This academic year, almost a 1,000 students and doctoral students receive financial support under the Bridge Scholarships Program, including over 550 people for the first year of studies.
The „Diploma of Dreams” campaign helps local NGOs create their own scholarship programs in keeping with the „Bridge Scholarships” concept. Moreover, the program offers summer internships in the United States organized in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw (the Polish-American Internship Initiative – PAII).