On August 7, 2018, AGBU announced its decision, in coordination with My Step Foundation, to extend scholarships to select students recently accepted to some of the top universities in the world. Many of these high achievers had been counting on receiving scholarships offered by the Luys Foundation, a non-profit established by key figures of the previous administration to help ensure that top-performing Armenian students from around the world could fulfill their dream of graduating from an elite learning institution and help strengthen Armenia’s competitive standing in the process. Luys announced its dissolution soon after the new government was installed, leaving the applicants’ academic futures uncertain.
My Step Foundation was launched by journalist, activist and spouse of the new prime minister Anna Hakobyan with the mission of finding solutions for issues that cannot be fully addressed by government. The charity was set up to serve as a connector, matching funds to projects either internally or externally-generated. Hakobyan could not have anticipated that the first test of the new model would be coming to the aid of these students who had little time left to meet their financial obligations for the 2018-2019 academic year. She promptly reached out to the international community and, shortly thereafter, AGBU responded with $200,000 in scholarship funding. It also agreed to assume responsibility for administering the scholarships directly with the universities involved—Oxford University, Cambridge University and University of Chicago among them.
Berge Setrakian, president of AGBU, noted that AGBU’s decision to make such an exceptional contribution this year was based on the reality that the academic fates of these exemplary scholars were on the line. “We cannot let the goals of the these hardworking and intellectually gifted students be impeded because of circumstances beyond their control. We applaud My Step for reaching out so promptly and we are grateful to all our education-minded donors who make it possible for AGBU to extend the needed financial support.”
Hakobyan expressed her thanks to AGBU for stepping up. “Partnering with AGBU was a natural choice, given that it has awarded thousands of scholarships to Armenian students over many decades. We unanimously recognized the potential of this extraordinary pool of students to contribute their knowledge and skills to help transform Armenia into the competitive nation it aspires to be in the world economy. We are truly grateful that AGBU, among our other partners, was so quick to affirm its longstanding commitment to higher education in this unexpected way.”
While My Step Foundation found a quick way to support some Armenian students, a more sustainable solution is sought to streamline young people’s access to scholarships.
Established in 1906, AGBU (www.agbu.org) is the world’s largest non-profit Armenian organization. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually touching the lives of some 500,000 Armenians around the world.