Educational Endowment Advances Careers of Talented Immigrants

When Paul Soros arrived in Manhattan in 1948, he was a penniless immigrant from Hungary desperate to escape the economic instability of his Communist-controlled homeland. Eager to advance his education and achieve a better life, Soros was unable to afford tuition at an Ivy League school and instead pursued his master’s degree in engineering at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute, while working a series of menial jobs and struggling to make ends meet. Now, over half a century later, his multi-billion dollar engineering firm, Soros Associates, is helping to make the dreams of a new generation of immigrants come true through an educational grant program.

Established in 1997, the Fellowship Program for New Americans is a $75 million annual trust endowed by Paul Soros and his wife Daisy to support the graduate education of immigrants or children of immigrants. The program selects 30 new Americans – defined as lawful permanent residents (“green card holders”), naturalized citizens, or children of naturalized citizens – to support each year, providing up to $90,000 in tuition and living expenses for each selected student. The program is merit-based and highly competitive, with the organization looking for applicants who have demonstrated “creativity, originality, and initiative in one or more aspects of her/his life,” and “a commitment to the values expressed in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights … [such as] support of human rights and the rule of law, opposition to unwarranted encroachment on personal liberty, and advancing the responsibilities of citizenship in a free society.” This year’s list of thirty selected Soros Fellows includes six IndianAmericans and six ChineseAmericans, all of whom boast impressive resumes and degrees from top universities, such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. [See Who We Are, Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans official website. See also, Newly-Named Soros Fellows for 2016 Include Six IndianAmerians, by Giovanni Albanese, Jr., India West, 13.Apr.2016.]

As Mr. Soros explains in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in 2010, his reason for establishing the fellowship was to use his immense fortune to “pay it forward” to the country where he was able to make his dreams come true, and to encourage future generations of immigrants, and children of immigrants, to pursue their education in the face of challenges, as he once had. “Having a building with our name on it doesn’t appeal to me…I was hoping that this fellowship would have a real contribution to American culture, the economy and the citizens of this country.” [See Endowment Gets $25 Million Boost, by Jenny Strasburg, The Wall Street Journal, 30.Jun.2010.]

Paul Soros arrived in America broke, and through hard work, ingenuity, and an innate desire to achieve a better life, became one of the wealthiest people in the world. His Fellowship Program for New Americas continues to ensure that future generations of talented immigrants and first generation Americans will be able to achieve their dreams through the most powerful tool available – education.


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