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

Today, the George W. Bush Institute formally opened applications for the 2019 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, 18 scholarships have been awarded to 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 2018 recipient said the scholarship gave him the encouragement to achieve his own American dream. 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. 

“North Koreans live under conditions of systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations, which is why many risk everything to escape to freedom,” said Lindsay Lloyd, Director of the Bush Institute’s Human Freedom Initiative. “Our research shows most North Koreans living here have adapted well and want to contribute. They remind us why helping those who have been oppressed is not only morally sound, it is in our best interest as a nation.” 

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, 2019. 

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