Paul and Daisy Soros, Hungarian immigrants and American philanthropists, established their Fellowship program for New Americans in December 1997 with a charitable trust of fifty million dollars. Their reasons for doing so were several. They wished to "give back" to the country that had afforded them and their children such great opportunities and felt a fellowship program was an appropriate vehicle. They also felt that assisting young New Americans at critical points in their educations was an unmet need. Finally, they wished to call attention of all Americans to the extensive and diverse contributions of New Americans to the quality of life in this country.
In 2010, Mr. and Mrs. Soros contributed an additional $25 million to the charitable trust that funds their Fellowships for New Americans. For details, see the Wall Street Journal article.
The program of Fellowships they shaped has the following characteristics:
- It honors and supports the graduate educations of 30 New Americans – permanent residents or naturalized citizens if born abroad; otherwise children of immigrants – each year.
- At the time of their selection, Fellows must be college seniors or early in the graduate programs for which they request support.
- Each Fellow receives tuition and living expenses that can total as much as $90,000 over two academic years.
- Fellows can study in any degree-granting program in any field at any university in the United States.
- Fellows are selected on the basis of merit – the specific criteria emphasize creativity, originality, initiative and sustained accomplishment – in annual national competitions. Candidates apply directly. The program does not depend on recommendations from universities or regional screening. Neither financial need nor distributive considerations are taken into account in the selection process.
- Each Fellows attends two weekend conferences of Fellows. The great majority continue to be involved with the program through regional dinners, service in the selection process for later classes, etc.