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Application Opens for Bush Institute’s North Korea Freedom Scholarship

The scholarships help North Korean escapees pursue educational opportunities and build new lives in freedom.

January 15, 2020
President Bush met with current and former North Korean Freedom Scholarship recipients on June 21, 2019 to learn about their journeys to America and their dreams for the future.

Dallas, Texas (January 15, 2020) Today, the George W. Bush Institute formally opened applications for the 2020 North Korea Freedom Scholarship, designed to help North Korean escapees take advantage of the opportunities America offers and build productive, prosperous lives as new Americans. 

Applicants are eligible for scholarships up to $15,000 and pairing with a mentor who has expertise in their field of study or can address other needs. The awards help escapees further their education by attaining a post-secondary degree, attending English-language classes, or completing a vocational program. Scholarships may be used to cover tuition, fees, books, and on-campus housing at any accredited institution of higher learning.  

To date, 31 scholarships have been awarded to vocational school, community college, university, and graduate-level students who aspire to lead a variety of careers including as doctors, financial advisors, and United States diplomats. One 2019 recipient said the scholarship gave her hope, opportunity, and a way to achieve her educational goals. Several said the funding enabled them to complete their studies for the year and expressed a desire to pay the generosity forward, helping fellow North Korean immigrants. 

The Bush Institute began this program in 2017 to help give North Korean refugees living in the United States an opportunity to build new lives. Like all refugees who come to this country, these North Koreans are fleeing unimaginably bad conditions in their homeland. North Korea has one of the worst human rights records on earth – it’s a place where there is no freedom.

 “From our research and the experience of the previous years of the scholarship, we know that most of the North Koreans who resettle here adapt quickly and well to life in the United States,” said Lindsay Lloyd, Bradford M. Freeman Director of the Human Freedom Initiative. “I’ve been so impressed not only by their stories of how they escaped, but also by their deep desire to give back to others. They’re eager to make their mark and we are proud to support them.”

The Bush Institute conducted needs assessment studies on North Korean refugee communities, revealing a trend of self-sufficiency but finding many escapees are in low-level jobs with little chance for advancement. Research shows many want to improve their opportunities through education but face economic obstacles. The findings led the Bush Institute to work with Korean American and other community leaders across the country to raise $367,400 to establish the scholarship in 2017. The scholarship is administered by Communities Foundation of Texas. 

Applicants must be born in North Korea or the child of someone born in North Korea and must permanently reside in the United States as a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or refugee. Previous applicants and recipients are welcome to reapply. The application closes April 1, 2020. 

This effort is part of the Bush Institute’s ongoing work to improve the human condition in North Korea

Interested candidates can learn more and apply on the Communities Foundation of Texas website at https://www.grantinterface.com/Home/Logon?urlkey=cftexasscholarship.