Airbnb chief donates $100 million to Obama scholarship fund | American News
Airbnb co-founder and chief executive Brian Chesky has donated $100 million to the Barack Obama Foundation to fund scholarships for students pursuing careers in public service, with the awards including several travel allowances.
Each so-called Voyager Scholarship will award rising college juniors $50,000 to cover tuition over two years as well as a $10,000 grant and Airbnb credit to finance a summer university trip designed by the student. 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.
“If we want this next generation of leaders to be able to do what they need to do, they need to come together. They must know each other. They have to understand each other’s communities,” Obama said in a video ad.
“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,” he added.
Obama and Chesky plan to meet with the fellows at an annual conference to talk about service and leadership.
“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 one of the two largest ever received by the Obama Foundation, tied with a $100 million gift from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in November.
About 43 million Americans have student loans worth $1.6 billion, according to federal figures. 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 that he was continuing to study what action to take on student loans.
The Voyager Fellowship has opened applications through the website America Stock Exchange 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 deadline to apply 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 “careers in government, nonprofit organizations, or the private sector,” including occupations ranging from “the community organization to social work and from entrepreneurship to the arts”.
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.
“Education is personal to me,” said Michelle Obama, the former first lady. “I have met so many young people who are interested in public service, but wonder how they will pay for their education or if they will be able to see the world beyond their own community.