Obamas and Airbnb CEO launch ‘Voyager Fellowship’

The Obama Foundation is partnering with Airbnb to launch the “Voyager Scholarship” program, which aims to give students interested in public service a financial boost throughout their senior years of college and beyond.

What do you want to know

  • The Obama Foundation and Airbnb announced the launch of their new Voyager Scholarship program on Monday.
  • The scholarship is funded by a $100 million donation made by Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and will be available to aspiring juniors.
  • Applicants must have “demonstrated a commitment to public service” and must demonstrate financial need to receive a scholarship
  • Applications for the scholarship will be open until June 14; accepted applicants will be notified by August

The scholarship will be funded by a $100 million donation made by Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and will be available to junior students who have both “demonstrated a commitment to public service” and plan to “pursue a future career in public service upon graduation,” a statement said in part.Students must demonstrate financial need to be eligible for the scholarship.

The scholarship, which was announced in a joint video filmed with Chesky and former President Barack Obama, will likely be awarded to around 100 college juniors in its first year, with the option for those students to renew the program as seniors.

“I didn’t travel a lot before starting Airbnb, you know, my parents are social workers. But what surprised me as I traveled was that it kind of teaches curiosity,” Chesky said in the video.

“I think so many people have a passion for public service, but they don’t get into public service because they can’t afford it, they have too much financial burden on them,” said- he added. “What if we could remove that burden, so people can actually get into public service, serve their community, but also expand their horizons.”

The application defines “public service” broadly and may include students interested in government service, nonprofit work, and private sector jobs, such as teachers, social workers, journalists, or other areas that are “committed to creating a more connected, fair and equitable world.

“We are looking for students from all over the country to apply,” Chesky wrote in a follow-up tweet announcing the scholarship program. “Public service can range from education to community organization, from health care to the arts.”

Fellows, or “Travellers,” will receive funding for a number of programs. Students can get up to $25,000 per semester in financial aid to cover tuition or school living expenses to help offset student debt pressures.

Students will also receive a $10,000 summer stipend to “pursue internships or mentorship opportunities anywhere in the world that will broaden their horizons and prepare them for careers in public service.” Airbnb will provide housing for students during their summer travel experiences.

Airbnb will also offer scholars a $2,000 travel credit each summer for 10 years after graduation, and offer a “Fall Summit” – where Chesky, Obama and other public figures will hold a meeting – to foster links between students and those in the public service industry.

“If we want this next generation of leaders to be able to do what they need to do. They need to meet,” Obama said in Monday’s video statement. “They need to know each other. They must understand the communities of others.

Applications for the scholarship will be open until June 14 at 3:00 p.m. Central Time; accepted applicants will be notified in August and the program will begin in September.

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