The meeting was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Poland Paul W. Jones, representatives of the Program Founders and Partners Coalition, as well as the present-round scholarship holders.
“As a survey conducted among the Bridge Scholarships holders and alumni shows, for half of the respondents the scholarship was the main source of money over their first year of studies. Thanks to the prospect of getting it, they could decide to study at the university and faculty of their dreams. They did not have to look for a job over their first year of study, when combining job and studies is especially difficult. They could develop their interests other than studies, increase their cultural capital. 90 percent of scholarship holders finished their studies with very good or good grade,” Jerzy Koźmiński, the President of Polish-American Freedom Foundation said during the address opening the meeting. He emphasized that it is thanks to involvement of broad group of Partners, that the Bridge Scholarships Program is one of the biggest non-governmental scholarship programs in Poland.
Ambassador Paul W. Jones referred to the 100th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between the USA and Poland and pointed to the important role played by such project as the Polish-American Internship Initiative in developing good relations between both countries. “Our future is in your hands, and I am very optimistic about it,” said Ambassador Jones congratulating the scholarship holders.
Małgorzata Zdzienicka-Grabarz, the President of BGŻ BNP Paribas Foundation spoke on behalf of the Partners and Founders. She recalled the beginnings of the program. “The Bridge Scholarships are the result of need to cooperate and join hands in something that works for the good. We all are a part of that bridge – both those who established it and those who contribute to its continuation,” she said.
The event made an opportunity to honor the Sponsors and Partners of the Bridge Scholarships Program; the statuettes commemorating the 15th anniversary of the program were presented by Dr. Zofia Sapijaszka and Jerzy Koźmiński. Next the group of 45 students representing over 1100 this-year scholarship holders from all over Poland received diplomas from the representatives of the program Founders and Partners.
“Your attitude deserves respect because you motivate young people to act. Your support is a trampoline for us which allows us overcome even big obstacles, reach higher and fulfill our dreams,” said scholarship holder Dominika Dubiel, addressing representatives of the Program Founders. “The Bridge Scholarships Program is an opportunity for much more than only good education. We gain new experiences, make new friends, improve in selected areas, develop talents and ourselves. We – the scholarship holders coming from small towns – are the world citizens today,” Dominika Dubiel concluded.
To add splendor to the event, program alumnus and graduate of accordion class at Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw Mateusz Chmielewski played Bulgarian Suite by Vyacheslav Semyonov.
The Bridge Scholarships Program was launched 15 years ago in response to a serious social problem – the clear disparity of access to higher education between urban and rural youth. The program helps talented young people from small localities, including former state-owned farm areas, make the decision to begin university studies by offering them first-year scholarships.
Today it is an extensive scholarship system offering support also over next years of studies. The scholarships are awarded to apt and ambitious young people from small towns or villages, low income families, who start their full-time university course. Eligible to apply for a scholarship in the amount of PLN 500 a month are those senior high school leavers who do very well in their academic pursuits and meet one of the conditions – come from the family of former state-owned farm workers, or are the finalists of thematic secondary high school Olympiads, or come from a big family or a foster family or a state children’s home, or have been recommended by a local NGO.
Under the program, six types of support is awarded. Students who perform very well at their university course can get scholarships for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th year of studies, language scholarships, scholarships for doing a part of their studies abroad, doctoral scholarships, as well as scholarships for doing their internships in the United States or in Poland.
So far a total of over 21,000 various scholarships have been awarded, including over 15,500 scholarships for the first year of studies. This year 1,100 students and postgraduate doctoral course students benefit from the support, including 650 students of the 1st year of studies. Most of scholarship holders say that the scholarship was important for them and improved their financial situation.
Currently the Founders and Partner group is composed of Polish-American Freedom Foundation, the National Bank of Poland, the Rural Development Foundation, the BGŻ BNP Paribas Foundation and a coalition of some 100 local NGOs. The program is implemented in cooperation with the National Center for Support of Agriculture (former the Agricultural Property Agency), Professor Bronisław Geremek’s Center and the Unit for Social Innovation and Research “Shipyard” Foundation. For 16 rounds of the program the Partners have disbursed PLN 103 million.
The program is managed by the Educational Enterprise Foundation.
The main media patron of the program is “Rzeczpospolita” daily. The media patrons are “Forum Akademickie” (the Academic Forum) and “Perspektywy” (Perspectives) monthly.
For more information contact:
Anna Nowak, the Educational Enterprise Foundation,PR Specialist
tel.: (42) 632 59 91; (42) 631 95 58; mobile.: 660 223 851