May 26, 2016

A Letter from China

Felix, aged 11, with his older brother
Felix, aged 11, with his older brother

On the eve of SOAR Foundation's 2016 Annual Fundraising Luncheon, the Foundation received a letter from Felix, who was among the few lucky students who have received the first SOAR scholarships in 1996.   What has been the impact of SOAR scholarships on Felix's life, who is now a 30-year old business owner in China?  Let us hear Felix's story, in his own words:

"Dear Sir or Madam,

This is Felix writing.

First, I would like to make a brief introduction of myself. I used to be one of the students supported by SOAR Foundation’s scholarships. For eight years I got a scholarship from SOAR every year from 1996, when I was 11 years old, to 2002, when I was admitted to college with a number one ranking in my county.

My hometown is in Northwest China, Gansu province, one of the undeveloped areas in China. I was born as the middle child in a poor rural family with three children. My older brother (pictured with me) was also academically excellent but never went to college because my family could not afford it. I was lucky to become the first group of students to get SOAR's scholarships starting from middle school, and my life has been totally changed because of that!

Now thirty years old, I am running a solar company as one of the partners in Guangzhou, the third biggest city in southern China. Our main business is solar lighting products exporting to developing countries, to brighten up the lives of the people who are still living in darkness, without electricity. I have also established my own young family here in the city.

Sometime, I would imagine what life would be like for me if I have not gotten those SOAR's Scholarships. Perhaps, I would still be working in the field back home, or maybe I would have become a worker on an assembly line. SOAR scholarships provided me with the opportunities to finish high school and go to college. The foundation also provided mentoring along the way on my journey. I have been keeping touch with Ms. Julia for 20 years, and she is my mentor from the SOAR Foundation.

With this letter, I would like to get reconnected with the SOAR Foundation. Although I am only at the beginning of my own business, and am still working for a better life for my own family, I want to become one of those benefited from the SOAR Foundation Scholarships to give back the gift of education to another talented kid in need, and I am hereby making a pledge to support one high school student. In fact, not only me, we have a big circle of friends, many of them are quite interested in my story as a student getting supports from the SOAR Foundation, and want to see what we can do to help on the platform of the SOAR Foundation.

Above all, please kindly reply with instructions on how we could help. For your convenience, I have provided my contact information. Please let me know if there is something more we can do to help. Thanks!

Sincerely,
Felix"

Over the past 21 years, SOAR Foundation's scholarships helped more than 8000 students just like Felix. 

Feb 22, 2016

Meet Duo Liu, a Former SOAR Foundation Scholar

Duo's student ID in College
Duo's student ID in College

After both of Duo’s parents passed away in his early childhood, he was raised by his Grandfather. His older brother dropped out of middle school to support the family, and Duo was dangerously close to doing the same when he was awarded his first SOAR scholarship in sixth grade. SOAR continued to support him with scholarships and a mentor throughout all six years of his middle and high school careers. He matriculated to college in Chongqing, and graduated with a BA in International business in 2010. Currently, he works as a Client Service Executive in the green energy industry in Shanghai.

And fifteen years after receiving his first scholarship, Duo Liu is giving back to SOAR. Duo says he donates to SOAR in order "to support other kids to stay in School just as other SOAR donors supported me all those years ago!”

Duo Liu's story is the best testimony to SOAR's mission: helping bright students in rural China stay in school so they can achieve their dreams, reach their full potential, and give back to the community.

As a donor, you can support SOAR in our mission: providing merit-based scholarships to extremely deserving but underprivileged middle and high school students in rural China. On average, we award approximately 1,000 scholarships annually so that these intelligent students can continue to attend universities, and achieve success in college and beyond.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the 36 donors who helped us exceed our goal in the 2015 Year-End Challenge by raising $3,880. 100% of your net donations have gone directly to providing scholarships. We thank you for your generosity and the life-changing impact you have made in the lives of these students.

Duo and his classmates in a high school dorm
Duo and his classmates in a high school dorm
Nov 25, 2015

Help 8000+ Chinese Students Staying In School

Chunchao: A Scholar's Journey
Chunchao: A Scholar's Journey

Ove 40 million school-aged children are at risk of dropping out of school before their high school graduation in rural China, Chunchao almost became one of them! Back when Chunchao was 11 years old, life became extremely difficult for him. His family lived in a remote village in China, and his parents both had disabilities. He had just entered middle school and his grades were excellent; but his family can no longer afford his schooling, and he was told that he had no choice but to drop out. He cried and cried in the run-down home.

Then one day his teacher told him, a SOAR Foundation based in America may be able to help him.  Several volunteers from SOAR visited his family home during their annual visit to China, they looked at all the academic awards on the wall, and talked to him and his parents for a long time. After that, he was informed that he could apply for a $400 SOAR Scholarship which would cover all tuitions, fees, and supplies for an entire school year. He did not have to drop out of school after all! From then on, SOAR became an important part of his life.   For the next six years, he was supported by SOAR Scholarships all through middle and high schools. He also got one-on-one mentoring from a SOAR volunteer who exchanged letters with him for many years, offering encouragement and advice along the way.  After 6 years of receiving SOAR scholarships, Chunchao gained a college admission in Beijing in 2006, a tall honor achieved by only 3% of rural graduates. Today, he has graduated with two degrees and is working for Bank of China!   

Chunchao is just one of the thousands of students in rural China that was helped by these scholarships every year. Since 1995, the SOAR Foundation has provided 26,600 merit-based scholarships to more than 8,000 impoverished yet gifted students across rural China to finish high school and achieve success thereafter. Many of these students have now become productive members of the society, and some are attending graduate schools, in China and in the US.

In order to reach out to more first-time donors after 20 years of great efforts, this year SOAR Foundation started a partnership with GlobalGiving. During the September Open Challenge, SOAR’s project, “Fund 1000 Scholarships in Rural China for a Year” raised $16,640, a Second Place finish that won an additional $2,000 award from GlobalGiving! Thank you so much for more than 80 donors who made donations to SOAR’s project on GlobalGiving.

While this is great news for those school children and youth in rural China, more scholarships are urgently needed and everyone can help! SOAR’s Year-End Campaign on GlobalGiving, which is just around the corner during the holiday season. Our project aims to raise at least $3,000 additionally from 30 donors during the month of December. While you are celebrating the holidays and making your tax-deductible donations to charities, please remember students like Chunchao for whom your kindness could mean the difference between staying in and dropping out of school. Please kindly donate to SOAR’s Project, “Fund 1000 Scholarships in Rural China,” or become a recurring donor. Thank you so much and Happy Holidays!

                                                                                       

Chunchao at Age 11
Chunchao at Age 11
Chunchao: Home and Academic Awards
Chunchao: Home and Academic Awards
 
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