Scholarship and Personal Development Program
This second quarter was an extremely successful quarter as far as the financial contributions towards Bosana Foundation. First, there was Seattle Benefit help at the beginning of April that raised close to $10,000 for our programs and our Bosana Annual Benefit held on May 10th that was also an enormous success. We have raised $52K which means that funds are secured for the current group of students enrolled in our scholarship program. We will also be able to accept new students in the upcoming 2014/2015 academic year. In this quarter, we also experienced a natural disaster where Bosnia and Herzegovina was hit with the worst floods in the last century and many families, including those of our students were affected. At the same time we were able to see how much Bosana program and the ideals that we were trying to convey really meant to our students. We are proud to report that all of our students have been a part of the solution in this natural disaster. They have volunteered to go clean up affected areas, to prepare rescue packages; they have organized small fundraisers and even donated as much as they could. Together with our donors in Orange County, CA they collected prom dresses for the girls who were supposed to graduate this year to at least put a smile on their faces for one evening.
Students and Program Update:
Students were preparing for their midterms and exams that were scheduled in the first and second month of this quarter; however, catastrophic floods have affected most of the country. Classes were postponed so student body could help in the clean-up process and our students have taken seriously this responsibility. All the attention shifted to flooded areas and different ways they could help their friends and neighbors. Our students have helped with clean-up after the floods, they packed food and other necessities, and they have organized fundraisers at their colleges. Female students have also agreed to donate their dresses for the girls from Maglaj that are graduating from high school. Maglaj was one of the cities that was completely destroyed, and people lost everything. Since high school graduation was postponed until august they have decided to collect prom dresses from their friends and themselves. These dresses might not be so important in the time like this, but it was a very nice gesture and certainly something that students and parents will appreciate when the time comes.
This year we will have nine (9) students graduate college. This is our official first graduating class of Bosana students who have started with us from year one until now. As a result, we have geared our focus towards helping these students become self-sufficient or those who wish to continue their studies to find the best universities. At this point, we know that at least 5 students are sure that they want to continue their education and obtain Masters degree. Three wish to attend universities outside of BIH but some have not submitted their paperwork on time and might not be able to start college in September but will have to wait until spring semester.
Our students are still taking some of their exams and they will continue to take into the beginning of next quarter. At this point, we are still waiting for results but majority of our 38 students are in good academic standing.
Updates from the last report:
We have reported last quarter that we have 9 students graduating, and majority would like to continue their education. Unfortunately, due to the changes in schedules and postponed classes, few students will not be able to make the deadline to apply for the graduate program. In the upcoming year these students will be transferred into the Professional Development program until they are accepted to the graduate program of their choosing. Students who are not interested in continuing education will have the support from the organization in their employment seeking endeavors. President of the foundation is currently focused on this next stage of the program where we want to secure employment for our students by connecting with different local companies that will offer employment to our students based on their qualifications and recommendations. She has been working on this plan for some time and we really hope that this way Bosana will be able to help our students transition into the next phase of their life.
--Nadja K., second year economy student from Bihac has won the essay competition. The task was to write an essay on topic “How to solve youth unemployment in BiH”. Reward for the best essay was a trip to Los Angeles to attend Bosana’s 5th Annual benefit. Nadja gave a speech at the event and expressed her gratitude to all the donors on behalf of all Bosana students. Donors appreciated the fact that they got to meet one of our students and learn more about everyday issues they are facing. It was beneficial for our donors to learn firsthand how much Bosana means to these students.
--Two of our Professional Development students edited Bosana video for the annual event. They have put a lot of effort into this video to help us and contribute toward the work of the foundation. Video was focused on two days of the team building organized for Bosana students back in March.
--Selma S., art student at University of Banja Luka has been a center of attention this quarter. It was announced that she will be the artist that will open summer festival in Croatia and in less than a week it was announced that she received a prestigious award for her creativity and innovation. Her work is being honored by the Center for Contemporary Art Sarajevo (SCCA). The award “Zvono 2014” has been awarded to Selma for her work created in the last two years. She has been trying to express her standpoints about treatment of the Roma people, to show that she is not ashamed of her background and to show how much Roma people are misunderstood, neglected and ostracized from the society.
--Svjetlana P., our student from Banja Luka attended “Sajam Praksi i Stipendija” on behalf of Bosana Foundation. She shared information about scholarship program and her experience as our student. This is the first time that we had our student representing the organization on their own and we are very excited to see new students in this role. We are hoping that we will have more of our students representing the foundation and spreading the word about our programs and benefits of the same.
Due to the catastrophic floods that happen in the Balkans, exam schedules for many universities have changed. Classes were stopped temporarily and rescheduled in the month of May to help those in need. Students whose families were not affected by floods offered their help to their peers. Exam schedules were shifted but the change in dates of testing should not affect individual academic performance of our students. Right now, majority of our students are in good academic standing. They are still waiting on results and exams are scheduled through July. We will have more specific information about their academic progress in the next quarter.
Since its our first year with dealing with our graduating class, some mistakes were made in preparing our students better for the Masters program. The BiH educational system is very different from the ones in other countries where students have to apply months in advance. Many did not know this and did not submit their applications on time, which means that they will not be able to start their programs in September but will have to wait until Spring semester. This is a lesson learned for us to make sure we warn our graduating students to think ahead when they need to apply for universities for those who wish to study abroad.
January- March 2014
The first quarter of this year has been thus far the most promising start of the new year with so many great opportunities and productive results that we hope will spill to all other quarters for the remainder of the year. Our students were also in the midst of exams so our focus was to also make sure they produce good results. Still, the most exciting part of this quarter was the Bosana students Team building that the Bosana Board has decided to become a focal part of the scholarship program each year.
All thirty-eight (38) Bosana students in this first quarter had to prepare for their midterms and final semester exams that were scheduled in the first and second month of this quarter. Few of our students had also “carried over” few of their exams from the previous academic year that they had to pass in order to be able to advance into the following year. For some this presented a problem and a lot more work but only one student that was already on suspension failed to pass his exams and will be removed from the scholarship program. The rest of the students were taking exams only from the classes taken in the fall/winter semester of 2013/2014. Overall it was a successful semester.
Majority of our students have taken and passed all of their exams. We still have few students that were not able to take exams due to the unavailability of professors and they will have to wait for April to be able to take these exams. Other students were not able to take those classes that they did not pass in this semester because they are not offered in the midterm of the year but rather only at the end of each year. This year, we are expecting to have seven graduates and we are trying to help these students take their final exams and prepare for the next step, whether we are talking about continuing their higher education or venturing into the employment world.
Since Bosana Foundation registered in 2010, this will be our first “graduating class” of our scholarship recipients so we are very excited to show our donors these seven graduates who otherwise would not be able to have a college diploma. For those graduating this year, we have transferred them into our Professional Development program, which is more geared towards preparing them for life after college. This means that they are excused from volunteering the 10 hours minimum that our students must complete and rather we encourage them to spent this time studying, writing their resumes, applying for jobs and possibly even starting to either volunteer or work at potential companies that might employ them after finishing their universities.
We have also forged a new partnership with CPE (Centre for Professional Education) that will give all of our students take free classes that they offer: among them are language classes, computers, graphic and web design, etc.
Worth mentioning is one of our students Mirzet Omerovic studying Economy at the University in Tuzla who drastically improved his grades after receiving a laptop donation from a company in Sarajevo, “Wood Team” whom we contacted amongst other donors asking to help us get Mirzet a laptop because he really needed it for his studies and also to be able to make additional income to help his parents. This new laptop inspired Mirzet to try even harder to succeed and also to show his appreciation to Bosana Foundation and our donors. This shows how our students recognize the opportunities we are giving them and are willing to work hard.
Nevertheless, the most rewarding and exciting news of this quarter is the students’ gathering for Bosana Team Building that took place for two days, which included an 8hour hike to the highest village on the Bjelasnica mountain and the next day rafting on the Neretva river in Konjic. The goal of the team building was for all of our students to get together, collaborate and learn more about nature and history of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our goal was also for students to do something that none of them have ever done, to test their limits and through this team building of survival in nature, extreme weather, necessity for collaboration and support of one another learn that only together can they achieve real results, that they put limits on themselves what they think that they can and cannot do and that the hard and most exhausting moments are when you are at the top, right before you succeed. This was an amazing adventure and an eye opener for many students who thought they could never climb a mountain, walk for that long, had fear of water, lacked social skills, etc. At the end of these two days, all students went home with new and real friendships, appreciation for one another and themselves, and with a memory that will last them a lifetime. It was also a nice and rewarding break for many after the exams and before the new semester.
During this Team Building weekend students also presented their Vision Boards, an assignment that was given to them to give them an opportunity to portray their hopes and dreams of the future. Students voted amongst themselves and chose Edin Serifovic vision board as the best one. His reward will be to help him towards a realization of one of the visions from the board, which will be most likely a bike trip to Greece this summer. Selma Kurtanovic vision board was awarded second place and she won 100KM.
Final update of this quarter was the essay contest that we offered to all of our students to write on the topic “how would they address the unemployment problem of the youth in BIH”. The prize for the best essay was an all paid trip to Los Angeles for one of the students to attend our 5th Annual Benefit and for a chance to meet our donors. On march 31st, an essay committee comprised of seven (7) members selected Nadja Kasumovic essay as the best one. Nadja was also selected our best student last year and received a laptop.
Some of the students had issues with their exams due to some of their personal problems but also not being able to pass their exams and therefore not satisfying our expectations from each student that’s required to maintain the scholarship. While we always do our best to avoid any student losing the scholarship, for some its simply not possible unless they do their part and pass the exams. Currently, we have one student who has notified us on time that due to his medical problems he might not be able to successfully complete the year and we are always sympathetic to students who come to us on time and show that they are doing their best bust are simply prevented due to medical problems. However, one of the students has lost his scholarship after this semester because his contract stated that unless he passes all of his grates in this semester he will lose the scholarship because he was already given a second chance when he decided to completely change majors and start from beginning. However, since he is a child from an orphanage without any family, we have given him a third and last chance that he has to pass all of his classes by the end of the school year and if he is able to continue into the next school year in September, that we will reinstate his scholarship. This is the final chance that we will give him; however, from now until September his scholarship funds are frozen.
Donor driven update worth mentioning:
At the end of January, Selma Cosic, a young lady originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina how now lives and works in Richmond, Virginia organized a private fundraiser with a group of her closest friends and she raised $1000. Soon after this event, she also decided to start a campaign to raise additional $3,000 by running a marathon with a group of her friends. She managed to even surpass that amount and raise $3,600. In addition to that, she will use her companies matching funds to match everything that she has raised and she hopes that by June of this year, she will have donated to Bosana together with her company $10,000. This is just one of the events that has been organized by our supporters in 2014 and it only goes to show how much Bosana Foundation is making an impact on young people both in BiH and around the world.
Scholarship and Personal Development Program
October - December 2013
In the previous quarter, Bosana Foundation had accepted eleven (11) additional scholarship recipients that in this quarter we focused on assimilating to our programs, with our previous students and evaluating their readiness to succeed in the school year, as well as determining what we need to do to on individual basis to help these new students. Since our numbers are growing, and now we have thirty one (31) students, it has become even more evident that the focus of this quarter and the following year, will have to be geared towards implementing a more vigilant and systematic monitoring and evaluation of individual students, especially new students that are still trying to get used to their new obligations. Several new scholarship recipients already were volunteers and they had no problem continuing with their volunteer obligations, while few of them still needed some time to find the organization and to adjust their school schedules to this duty. In all, since the school year started at the end of October and students do not start their exams until January, there is not much to report on student’s academic status. However, we do have some interesting news about new fundraisers and students’ initiatives.
Students and Program Update:
New academic year brings new obligations and additional tasks for our students because they start new classes and with that also fitting in their volunteer obligations. When it comes to academic success, this has been a fairly calm quarter because they do not start exams until mid January. Therefore, most of our students focused on attending their classes, volunteering, some even decided to use these couple of months to put in some extra volunteer hours so they have more time for studying once the exam begin. Some also requested to access the funds available for each student as part of their professional development to either sign up for language classes, attend seminars or purchase laptops because they determined that it was necessary to assure success in the coming school year.
Here are some of the highlights of this quarter:
Program Fundraising & Financial Updates
In October, a fundraising event held at the Gymnasium Apeldoorn in Holland, was completed. This event was organized by a high school student originally from BiH. Sehida Begovic was the girl that started this, and the goal was to use the 100th birthday of her school for fundraising, and all the proceeds were dedicated to the Bosana Foundation. The school managed to raise 6,628.00 in one day. They have sold food, jewelry, entertainment, etc. This event shows that Bosana is making an impact not only on lives of orphaned and marginalized youth that it severs but on young people all around the world.
As our number of students grows and our volunteer staff number remains the same, we are noticing a challenge in maintaining as close of a relationship with all of our students as we had in the past. Their problems are many but fortunately, with many issues we have dealt in the past so we have a protocol to fall back on. In addition, monitoring all students’ progress remains a challenge and so we need to standardize and simply our monitoring tools to assure that it covers all possible challenges and yet it does not take more of our time.
The upcoming challenge in the coming quarters will be finding more resources for our professional development program, especially those students who are graduating this year because we want to make sure that we best prepare them for the world after college, including helping them become self-sufficient citizens with a job after college.
This quarter’s focus was on wrapping up the end of the 2012/13 school year amongst our current scholarship recipients, providing them any additional support, mentoring and reflecting on the successes and failures of the school year to determine how to improve our outcomes. Our priority was also promoting our scholarship program across the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina in all the media, institutions, schools, nonprofit organization, etc to assure that as many great potential candidates heard and applied for our scholarship. We can positively say that the efforts were fruitful because this year we received more application than ever, four times more applications than last year. In total, we have received 116 applications, which made the decision for the Scholarship Selection Committee very difficult because we had decided that financially we were able to only accept five to ten new scholarship recipients.
Furthermore, to make use of the knowledge we collected during this period, and the experiences of the previous three years, we also decided to hire an independent consultant who would undertake monitoring and evaluation of our program during this quarter to give us recommendations how we can improve the success rate of our students, our oversight and overall effectiveness of the program in reaching our mission. Findings will be available in the next quarter and shared among our donors.
Students and Program Updates:
First part of this quarter was all about finalizing the school year and making sure that as many of our students passed enough classes to be able to continue on to the next year. For those that were able to pass all of their classes, the rest of the summer was left for relaxation. Those that had to retake their exams, some were scheduled for August and others for September, which meant that some of our students did not have a summer break at all. Bosana staff was particularly at students’ disposal in the previous quarter and this quarter doing everything that was in our power to help them prepare and succeed during the exam period. This meant closer monitoring, mentoring and offering paid instructions for those students that required additional help. Unfortunately, the results of the exams do not always depend only on students as BiH educational system has always struggled with corruption, nepotism and many times professors would not allow students to pass simply because they are allowed to only pass a certain number of students. For example, one of our students in Tuzla had particularly hard time to prepare for the exams and there was very little that she could do to assure her success because her professors cancelled many classes, there was never a set schedule to know when she would have exams, and so preparing and passing the exams was pure game of chance. The way our scholarship program is set up, those students that do not pass their classes and move on to the next school year are put on probation for the duration of the whole next school year while they retake those classes. They can exercise this rule only one year and if it happens again next year, without any detrimental reasons, the recipients completely lose their scholarship. This year, two of our students unfortunately had to completely lose the scholarship, while five were put on probation until the next academic year. The remaining fourteen (14) of our scholarship recipients are in very solid place and in many instances among the top students at their university.
We would particularly like to point out that there are three students who passed all of their exams and are going into the next year ready to take on new challenges without the baggage from the previous years. This year, Nadja Kasumovic was selected as our best student and as a result, she received a laptop that will help her continue to be among the best Bosana students.
As mentioned earlier, we accepted a total of 12 new scholarship recipients. Originally, we wanted to only take five because we wanted to make sure that we can sustain it financially and that we had the resources to give the appropriate support and mentorship that we pride ourselves that we give to all of our students. However, due to so many excellent candidates that we simply were not able to reject, we decided to give more partial scholarship than full scholarship to be able to take more students. Here is a list of the students selected into the new 2013/14 school year:
Recipients of the full scholarship:
Dino Alimanovic (Tuzla), studying Medicine at the University in Tuzla.
Majda Ferizovic (Tuzla), studying Physical Therapy at the University in Tuzla.
Selma Kurtanovic (Mostar), studying Radiology at the Medical University in Mostar.
Recipients of the partial scholarship:
Adnan Hodzic (Tuzla), studying Preschool education in Tuzla.
Brankica Draskovic (Pale), studying Ekonomics in Sarajevo.
Edis Isic (Maglaj), studying Electrical Engineering in Sarajevo.
Ivana Nikic (Trebinje), studying Medicine in Foca.
Selma Selman (Bihac), studying Art in Banjaluka.
Svjetlana Popovic (Banjaluka), studying Pharmacy in Banjaluka.
Additionally, once we saw that we will lose permanently two of our scholarship recipients and that some of our students will have their scholarship frozen for the coming year, the Scholarship Selection Committee decided to add three more students from the waiting list. These students are:
Dzenan Mahmutovic (Tuzla), studying Architecture at the University in Sarajevo.
Jasmina Fazlic (Zivinice), studying Turkish Language at the University in Tuzla.
Mirzet Omerovic (Kladanj), studying Economics at the University of Tuzla.
Scholarship Program development and noticeable improvements:
This year, due to the high number of applications, it was decided among out Board Members and staff that we should create a new project: Professional Development Program. This program was offered to seven scholarship candidates that demonstrated exceptional achievements in school and in their community but did not make it on our scholarship recipients list because we determined that they were still able to somehow finance their education without this scholarship. Namely, their situation was not as dire, they had both parents or at least one parent was employed. This program does not offer financial help right now; however, there are still a number of very useful benefits for these very promising and ambitious individuals. Through this program, they are offered to become part of the Bosana Foundation, have access to all resources that our students have: mentors, participate in our events, professional references and networks, internship and job placement assistance, etc. In return, these students will also have to volunteer minimum 10 hours a month and they will have to maintain a very good academic standing throughout their study. We would like to add that all of Bosana Foundation scholarship recipients in their last year are in addition to the scholarship program, also placed into this program to help them better prepare when they finish college.
First group of students that are going to be part of this new program are:
Anela Zorlak (Gorazde), studying Genetics in Sarajevo
Amir Beharic (Jajce), Criminology in Sarajevo
Faris Mujkic (Sarajevo), Electro technical Engineering in Sarajevo
Amila Bjelopoljak (Kakanj), studying Mechanical Engineering in Sarajevo
Denis Smajic (Bihac), studying Biology and Genetics in Sarajevo
Adela Vukas (Ilijas), studying Electro technical Engineering in Sarajevo
Adijata Vukas (Ilijas), studying Electro technical Engineering in Sarajevo
As mentioned earlier, we have also decided to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs to see how we can improve our management, provide more assistance to students, achieve greater outcomes and see if there are ways that we can directly improve the outcomes of our students’ success rate at the university. An independent evaluator was hired and the results of his research, students’ and their parents’ interviews, looking at the opportunities that the Bosana gave students that changed their lives and looking at the current educational and social situation of BIH and how Bosana helps alleviate these problems will all be included in the report that will be published in the next quarter.
Students’ exam outcomes and moving on to the next school year were our main concerns and challenges this quarter. September was make- or- break period for many of our students. We were positively surprised by the devotion of some students and their great results in this exam season; however, there were also those that were not able to successfully complete the school year.
Each one of our students has to submit a progress report, plan of action, when they have exams, and in addition we are in constant contact with our students to make sure that they do not have any personal problems that would prevent them from succeeding. In addition, all of our students know that they have funds for tutoring with subject that they struggle; however, even with these close contacts and efforts, we were not able to secure that all of our students do well in school. For this reason, we have hired the consultant to see how we can change and improve our management to improve our outcomes.
Finally, the foreseen challenge in the upcoming quarter will be the adjustment to managing our growing new group of students. The increase in size will bring more work in monitoring area, managing all student needs and requests but most importantly, it also means that we now have more pressure to raise additional funds to support the growing student body. In the next quarter, aside from the monitoring, fundraising will be out major concern.
This quarter the focus of the program was to best prepare our students for the end of the year exams. President currently living in BiH made a number of visits to all the students where we were concerned about their success. Mentors were also contacted so we can work closely with them to provide additional support to those students that needed it. In this quarter, we also had our Annual Event in April that was very successful. As a result, we will be able to grant at least five new scholarships in the upcoming school year.
Most importantly, the program has been strengthened as far as reporting and monitoring & evaluation. We have had also a number of significant donors contribute towards the program, not only financially but also providing their resources as mentors and advisors to the program.
We have also gained a number of new donors as a result of our Annual Event. Many have offered to be our new mentors and also independently raise funds for the program. Two of the donors have also offered to host our students in their respective countries in Europe over the summer and we are exploring this option to make sure its safe and educational experience.
Overall, we are very pleased with the results of our students while there are few that we will have to continue to watch closely as they finalize their school year in July. For those that do not succeed, they will have to study and retake their exams in September.
We are very excited however for the new applications that will start coming in on July 1st and for the students that become part of our family during the next quarter.
We continue to improve not only our M&E of the current students but also of our reporting to make sure it includes all necessary information. Most noticeable developments this quarter:
1) One of Bosana’s scholarship recipients, a student of product design at the University in Sarajevo, has won the International AUTO 2013 Challenge held in Zagreb, Croatia on April 5, 2013. There were 55 participants, where the second place went to a German contestant while the third went to participant from New Zealand. Sajdin’s prize is a Tablet but even more impressively, the Croatian car company will build a prototype car based on Sajdin's winning interior design.
2) We purchased a mountain bike for one of our students who does seasonal work over the summer collecting berries. He approached us with the idea because last summer he had to go by foot and with the bike he will be faster and more efficient. Each scholarship recipient has a “Professional Development Fund” allocated for these types of creative ideas so we were happy to support this student’s incentive.
3) We have secured part time employment for one of our students through our close collaboration with the Sarajevo Film Festival. Our student was offered an opportunity to work on a movie set; however, the employer was so pleased with our student’s performance that he now calls him on regular basis.
4) We have also secured a paid summer internship for one of our students in Sarajevo and we are waiting for one more in Bihac. They will work full time with very successful marketing and programming companies able to earn additional income and experience.
5) This year, we will have two of our students graduate with B.A. degrees; however, they will continue on their studies to obtain Master Degrees. Bosana will continue to fund their education as we have determined that it would be in their best interest personally and professionally.
6) We have worked tirelessly to improve our scholarship application as we prepare at the end of this quarter to open our 4th scholarship selection. We have also created an independence selection committee to make sure that the selection process is fair, well informed and experienced in the process.
Challenges in this quarter have been with those students who have not passed all of their exams in the winter semester. The educational system the way it is set up in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is normal that student have to retake their exams, sometimes more than twice, while they are able to move to the next semester and year. As it stands, we are concerned for five of our students; however, we are closely watching their progress, we have offered tutoring for some of them where the classes allow and we will continue to work closely with them until September when they are able to retake the classes that they did not pass.
Another challenge continuously present is the reality of BiH educational system that’s very corrupt, full of nepotism and bribery that our students face on daily basis.
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