Press Release

Application Opens for Bush Institute’s North Korea Freedom Scholarship

Scholarships help North Korean escapees pursue educational opportunities and build new lives in freedom

DALLAS—Today, the George W. Bush Institute formally opened applications for the 2021 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, a total of $118,500 has been awarded in 43 scholarships 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. Several recipients 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 difficult 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.

“It’s an honor to be able to support the Scholarship recipients as they adapt to life in the United States,” said Lindsay Lloyd, Bradford M. Freeman Director of the Human Freedom Initiative. “I’m inspired not only by their stories of how they escaped North Korea, but also by their deep generosity and desire to give back to others. They all have bright futures ahead.”

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-paying 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 over $350,000 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, 2021. 

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                


About the George W. Bush Institute:

Housed within the George W. Bush Presidential Center, the George W. Bush Institute is an action-oriented, nonpartisan policy organization with the mission of developing leaders, advancing policy, and taking action to solve today’s most pressing challenges. Through three Impact Centers –Domestic Excellence, Global Leadership, and an Engagement Agenda –the Bush Institute delivers measurable results that save and improve lives. To learn more, visit