For The Catholic Messenger
Quad-City educators Julie Eisenband and Chris Strunk noticed a problem regarding representation of immigrant and refugee students in their classrooms. While these students had a strong presence in Eisenband’s courses at United Township High School in East Moline, Illinois, fewer immigrant and refugee students were in Strunk’s classes at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. The two teachers’ new scholarship fund, administered by the Quad Cities Community Foundation, aims to help local immigrant and refugee students bridge the gap to higher education by removing one of the key barriers — financial support.
The Quad Cities Scholarship for Immigrants and Refugees will be awarded for the first time next spring. Applications for 2022 scholarships are open through Feb. 15, 2022, with recipients announced in May. Students are encouraged to apply early. The application is available at www.QCCommunityFoundation.org/scholarships.
“This opportunity will open doors,” said Laura Fontaine, executive director of World Relief Quad Cities, a partner in facilitating the new scholarship. “Financing an education is difficult for many students, but especially for new Americans. This kind of support for these students is critical.”
The scholarship offers students up to $4,000 each year for up to six years. Applicants must demonstrate financial need as well as merit through involvement in community, school, work or personal activities. The scholarship is open to immigrants, refugees or the children of at least one immigrant or refugee. Students of any citizenship or documentation status are eligible. Scholarships are available for study at four-year schools and accredited community college, college/university or trade school.
According to Fontaine, the scholarship’s broad qualifying criteria will help make it accessible to the greatest number of immigrant and refugee students, many of whom are nontraditional.
“Some refugees who arrive here are already in their late teens and have never had a formal education, so they’re older when they graduate,” she said. “Others may have had to leave college for financial reasons or they’ve been in the workforce and are looking to continue their studies now. Having the scholarship open to students of all ages, all areas of study and all types of schools will make a big difference.”