Airbnb’s Obama and Brian Chesky launch $100 million scholarships
NEW YORK (AP) — Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky has donated $100 million to the Obama Foundation to fund scholarships for students pursuing careers in public service and includes several travel allowances.
The Voyager Scholarship will award rising juniors $50,000 to cover tuition over two years, as well as a $10,000 grant and Airbnb credit to fund a student-designed summer experience. Scholars will also receive an Airbnb credit worth $2,000 per year for 10 years after graduation, in addition to Chesky’s donation, a foundation spokesperson said.
“You are going to find young people from all over the country who will be future agents of change. There are chefs everywhere. We just have to find them,” former President Barack Obama said in a video announcement Monday. He and Chesky will meet with fellows at an annual conference to talk about service and leadership.
Travel breeds curiosity and cooperation, Chesky said, acknowledging that many students face financial burdens that discourage them from entering service-oriented professions or fields.
“There are young people across the country who have a passion for public service, but who cannot pursue it because of their student debt,” Chesky said. “We want to help reduce that burden.”
Chesky’s donation is the largest the Obama Foundation has received, tied with a $100 million gift from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in November.
Some 43 million Americans have student loans worth $1.6 trillion, according to federal figures. President Joe Biden promised to cancel $10,000 in federal student debt per person during his campaign, but has yet to do so. He said in April he was continuing to study what action to take on student loans.
The Voyager Scholarship has opened applications through the Scholarship America website for the first 100 students it will fund. Applicants must be entering their freshman year of college at a four-year U.S. university and must be U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or have Deferred Action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The application deadline is June 14. Scholarship America is handling the application process, but the Obama Foundation will select recipients, a foundation spokesperson said.
Students must demonstrate a commitment to public service, which the program website broadly defines as including “careers in government, nonprofit organizations, or the private sector,” including professions ranging from “from community organization to social work and from entrepreneurship to the arts”.
Chesky graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design and opened up about his unexpected journey to becoming an entrepreneur. Airbnb went public in December 2020 with a valuation of over $100 billion, a major comeback after its business was badly hit by the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chesky pledged to give away the majority of his fortune during his lifetime.
The Obama Foundation recently funded community organizations working to close opportunity gaps for boys and young men of color as well as fund girls’ education, according to its 2020 tax filings.
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