Empowerment Scholarships Program

by Bridge to Turkiye Fund
Empowerment Scholarships Program
Empowerment Scholarships Program
Empowerment Scholarships Program
Empowerment Scholarships Program
Empowerment Scholarships Program
Empowerment Scholarships Program
Empowerment Scholarships Program
Empowerment Scholarships Program

Dear Friends,

We are happy to announce a multicultural initiative led by our BTF youth members around the world. Participation continues to grow and now encompasses three continents. Joined with a common purpose to build relationships through cultural bridges and give back to our homeland, BTF youth members are helping BTF scholars in Turkiye develop working skills to communicate in the English language with confidence. The impact of their collective work has been life changing as evidenced by testimonials from both members and scholars.

BTF English Empowerment Program

In Turkey, English is highly valued in all areas of society, including business, technology, and medicine. Speaking English fluently can greatly improve quality of life and create new job opportunities. Most students and adults spend years learning English grammar, comprehension, and vocabulary. Unfortunately, due to a lack of access to native English speakers, students in Turkiye struggle to find opportunities to practice speaking and listening.

Turkey is the world 16th largest economy and globally connected, but English proficiency in Turkey is low compared to more developed countries. In 2020, Turkey ranked #69 of 100 countries in the EF (Education First) English Proficiency Index.

BTF English Empowerment Program is intended to be the modern equivalent of a “pen pal program”, but instead of writing to each other, the students talk to each other with the goal of improving the Turkish students’ English speaking. High school students in the US are paired up with one or more university students receiving a BTF scholarship through local NGO’s in Turkiye. The participants connect through video conferencing applications and schedule conversational video calls with each other once a week (2 sessions of 30 minutes or 1 hour a week). The students are paired based on career interests. As a result, the high school students in the US are also able to learn about a particular field of study by talking to a college level student in Turkey.

This might be the first time the students in Turkey hear a native person speak or talk to a native person in English. Native speaking English teachers are rare in Turkey and most families can’t afford private English lessons. Our weekly conversation classes are free and built on mutual engagement to help provide the same access to native speakers for everyone.

The BTF English Empowerment Program started in June 2020, with 10 participants in Chicago, US and 10 students in Kocaeli, Turkey. After a promising two quarters, BTF Program Sponsors have decided to expand it nationwide as it has garnered interest from Boston, San Diego, Seattle,  New York, North Carolina, New Orleans BTF Youth. As of now, the program is running worldwide. There are currently 70 participants in the program. Thirty five  BTF youth members in the US, Bolivia, and Switzerland and 35 scholars in Turkey.

Through this program, students in different countries also foster international friendships and cultural exchange. Most of the BTF Youth group members are Turkish-American, whether 1st or 2nd generation, or Americans interested in learning about other cultures and the program provides them an opportunity to learn more about Turkish culture and day to day life. This program has not only greatly benefited the Turkish students, also have fostered international friendships.


Kind Regards,


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These past two years have been unparalleled with the global health crisis that shook the World to its core, highlighting grim inequalities in all aspects of our lives from healthcare systems, to race, gender, and more importantly in education. The World Bank reported that the pandemic has changed our world in the way we work, travel, communicate, teach, and learn. It is undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities. As the pandemic unfolded and schools closed, millions of students had to participate in online learning from their homes for the first time in their lives. Thus, remote learning due to the pandemic has exposed and widened inequities in education both within our country and among students across the globe. Turkish youth living in underserved communities were no exception as they faced a lack of basic resources like computers and access to the Internet.

Facing the challenges of a global pandemic, BTF volunteers have been working hard to find more ways to expand access to scholarships for more girls in Turkey. We have raised funds through 2021 to provide not only scholarships, but much-needed computers and tablets to students who are particularly hit hard by long-standing inequities in the Turkish education system. We are proud to report that the BTF Empowerment Scholarships Program, in partnership with 17 NGOs and university foundations, supported numerous students from underserved regions of Turkey during the 2021-22 Academic Year, as highlighted below:

Total Number of Scholarships: 1179
Total Number of Students Supported to Date: 5721
Percentage of Female Students Supported: 87%
Number of Laptops and Tablets Provided: 690
Total Investment Funds in Scholarships: $2,630,000
Total Grants to Turkey To Date: Above $5,000,000

These successes were only possible through the generosity of our supporters like you who share our commitment to investing in educational and health programs in Turkey.

We also celebrate the achievements of 171 BTF Scholars who successfully graduated despite the challenges and uncertainties posed by this global health crisis in 2021.

In this report, we are proud to introduce two BTF Spotlight Scholars whom we have been supporting through Çagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi:

Dear Sponsor:

"First, I would like to thank you for giving me a scholarship especially during these days when everyone thinks about themselves and their own interests. I am a 3rd year civil engineering student. I enjoy my major very much, but unfortunately this is not enough. I am usually confronted with questions like "Isn’t civil engineering difficult for women? Why didn't you choose another major?" It is invaluable for us to know that you trust and support us while many of my friends and I are faced with such questions. Thank you for your hard work and support. Best regards" – Selvi Nur, Class of 2023 

I graduated from Istanbul University Medical School in 2020. I was accepted into the BTF Empowerment Scholarships Program in my freshman year at university. Although I had not yet decided which career to pursue within the medical field, I accepted an invitation to participate in a research project from Karolinska Institute in Sweden in 2017, with the help of the scholarship I received from BTF. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made during my academic career. Before leaving, I corresponded with the BTF mentors who helped me set goals and plan to get the most out of my program. Finally, when I went to the laboratory and got involved in the project, I tried to spend my time in the most efficient way possible and immediately started planning my future research projects. I have decided to become a medical doctor and a research physician. I thought I could pursue this career best in the US, and passed the US Medical Licensing Exams while studying at my medical school. Later, I participated in research studies at the Mayo Clinic and Mount Sinai Hospital in the US and gave presentations at international meetings held in the US and England, and subsequently published articles on my research. I am currently working at the Mayo Clinic as a postdoctoral researcher. In the future, I aspire to be a clinician-researcher/physician and hope to complete my residency program in the US. The BTF family has been supportive of me every time I came to the US for my research programs and has contributed greatly to my development  both academicaly and socially. BTF has also given students like us the opportunity to be a part of and support BTF in the future. On behalf of all BTF scholars, I would like to thank all volunteers and supporters for contributing to our growth through educational scholarships.”-- Nazli, Class of 2020

We hope Selvi Nur’s and Nazli’s stories will inspire other young Turkish women to study in the medical and STEM fields. From the feedback we receive, our graduates are anxious to enter their chosen fields and start giving back to their communities.

As BTF continues its commitment to champion educational initiatives to reduce gender inequality and discrimination, your support will empower these students to push past barriers and fulfill their dreams.

We greatly appreciate your invaluable support of our BTF programs. We hope you will join us or continue your support as a donor, a sponsor, or a volunteer for our Empowerment Scholarships Program.

With gratitude,

BTF Team


BTF Scholar Nazli, Class of 2020
BTF Scholar Nazli, Class of 2020
BTF University Scholarships Program Overview
BTF University Scholarships Program Overview
Tech4Students Project Overview
Tech4Students Project Overview
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Middle East Technical University
Middle East Technical University

Dear Friend:

During the past two decades of its operations, Bridge to Turkey (BTF) has established a bridge between donors around the world and trusted partners in Turkey with the aim of benefiting socio-economically disadvantaged students with special emphasis on supporting female university students. BTF collaborates with many partners including university and high school alumni associations, foundations, and other nonprofit organizations to provide educational scholarships to students. In this report, we are happy to introduce the Middle East Technical University (METU) Scholarships Project – an important component of the Empowerment Scholarship Program.

BTF METU scholarships project was initiated in 2016 with the leadership of the METU Alumni Group of North Texas. This group had been meeting annually for socializing, networking, and raising funds to support scholarships to promising undergraduate students who study at METU in Ankara, Turkey. In 2016, the group decided to start partnering with BTF to establish a METU scholarship fund instead of directly transferring the funds to the alumni organization in Turkey. Partnering with BTF not only enabled them to take advantage of tax savings and corporate charitable gift matching programs but also sparked an interest among other METU alumni living across the USA in giving back to their alma mater. The small scholarship program that started with only 4 students quickly snowballed to 20 students within the first year, then to 40, and eventually to 80 students per year. Between the years of 2016-2020, alumni and friends of METU funded full year need- and merit-based scholarships for nearly 300 students and this group is planning to support over 100 students in the upcoming 2021-2022 academic year. BTF METU Scholarship funds are delivered to students through a partnership with the University’s Istanbul Alumni Organization and Scholarship Office. Over the years, special attention was paid to reach out to students from many different undergraduate programs and to include students with various physical disabilities.

Middle East Technical University, a public technical university located in Ankara, is one of the largest and most prestigious universities in Turkey. As a distinguished research university, METU has been committed to excellence in science and top-quality higher education since its foundation in the late 1950s. Today, METU offers a total of 41 undergraduate, 107 graduate, and 69 doctorate programs under five schools, with a special emphasis on engineering and natural sciences. The language of instruction at METU is English. Due to the high quality of education, and emphasis on research and social awareness, METU Alumni are well respected and have assumed leadership roles in various organizations not only in Turkey but also all around the globe. METU has over 135,000 graduates and over 20 percent of them live outside of Turkey. METU alumni are very loyal to their alma mater and are proud to give back to their school by supporting scholarships and creating opportunities for the new generation of METU students to change the world. Our goal as BTF volunteers is to continue to grow this program so that we can support an increasing number of METU Empowerment Scholarships every year.

Our METU Scholarship program is also very special because it inspired the foundation of various similar programs under the BTF umbrella that energized and enabled alumni of other leading universities in Turkey (e.g., Bogaziçi, Bilkent, and Haccettepe Universities) to give back to their schools. We believe this is a great testament to the power of leading by example in charitable giving. The fire sparked by the METU North Texas Alumni giving circle in 2016 with the goal of supporting four METU students not only quickly spread across the globe among other METU alumni organizations but also sparked fires among the alumni organizations of other peer universities. Through these programs, we are now able to provide hundreds of empowerment scholarships to promising college students in need of financial support every year.

We are forever grateful to our donors and volunteers who enable us to continue to support and grow these programs. Through your continued support, these young women and men will have a chance to live better lives and contribute to the Turkish Society.

We are happy to share pictures of recent gatherings of our BTF Giving Circle made up of METU Alumni volunteers. It is through the efforts of this group that we have been able to grow the scholarship fund to support promising students who need financial support.

Best regards,

Appreciation Certificate from Alumni Association
Appreciation Certificate from Alumni Association
BTF Giving Circle of North Texas
BTF Giving Circle of North Texas
METU Alumni Volunteers
METU Alumni Volunteers
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Darussafaka Society Scholars
Darussafaka Society Scholars

We hope you are enjoying the summer season!

In our November 2020 update, we had reported that Bridge to Türkiye Fund (BTF) collaborates with 17 well-respected nonprofit organizations through which scholarships are given to university students, especially to those who are from underserved communities in Turkey. In this report, we will provide an update of our work through the BTF Friends of Darüssafaka Society.

BTF Friends of Darüssafaka Society scholarship project started in 2017 through a networking opportunity during a meeting between one of the BTF Boston Circle leaders and a colleague who is an alumnus of Darüssafaka School. Through this chance meeting, they developed a collaboration between BTF and the Darüssafaka Society, because both organizations share common values and mission in supporting educational opportunities for underprivileged youth.  The Darüssafaka Society is one of the oldest and prominent NGOs founded in 1863 and aims to provide equal opportunities in education through full scholarships given to gifted students (who have been orphaned) from primary school through university. Their mission aligns with BTF’s goal in partnering with local established NGOs who support educational projects.  Many of the Darüssafaka graduates have gone on to become physicians, lawyers, journalists, scientists, bankers, and artists, each who has a unique life story that was changed by education.

To date, this partnership has provided scholarships to 28 university students through the generosity of our supporters! We are grateful to the Darüssafaka Society leaders who have helped us find students with high potential for success in contributing to the Turkish society. Scholarship recipients are currently studying at various universities in majors such as engineering, business administration, and medical sciences.

As part of this project, we supported a female university student, Ezgi, who participated in a study abroad program for her undergraduate degree in computer science at SUNY University, Buffalo. In a letter to BTF, Ezgi wrote:

“It has been a year since I shared my dreams with you. My first school year in the US was very challenging. It was a difficult year even exhausting some days, but at the end I finished it with a great success. I was able to get on the Dean’s List. Thanks to your support I felt stronger.”

Our goal is to continue to grow this program so that we can provide scholarships to more university students through the Darüssafaka Society.

Please continue to follow us to learn more about BTF’s Empowerment Scholarships Program and join our cause to give the life-changing gift of education. To learn more about the Darüssafaka Society, please visit: https://www.darussafaka.org/en/about-us/society 

Wishing you and your families an enjoyable summer and, as always, thanks for your continued support!

BTF Team


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Dear Friends,

A solid foundation in education is imperative for later success in life. It is not hard to imagine a college student falling behind simply because she/he does not have a computer, or a tablet to attend online classes. BTF’s Tablets4Kids and Laptops4Students projects have been initiated to meet the urgent technological needs of socio-economically disadvantaged young children and female undergraduates upon mounting request from students.

BTF launched the Tech4Kids program campaign in 2020 to deliver Tablets and Laptops to many rural schools and university students. Deliveries have been accomplished through BTF’s inhouse 4Kids program, as well as collaborative initiatives through ÇYDD, AHBAP, BRM, TED, PAYDA, #1DILEKYETMEZ, EGA, SOROPTIMISTs and ILKYAR.

As a result, over the last 10 months BTF successfully raised $124,000 in donations with the help of many valued volunteers and contribution of generous sponsors. 119 new laptops and 166 new tablets were provided to 285 university and elementary school students all around Turkey since the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic online education crisis.

However, there are many more students in need of technology to continue their online education.  That is why we are extending BTF’s Tech4Kids Campaign to Valentine’s Day. Our goal is to provide additional 100 tablets to elementary school kids, along with 50 laptops to university students. 

It is most essential for medical school and engineering majors to access online classes and efficiently navigate various computer programs. Laptops4Students recipients are now able to complete multifaceted assignments/exams, finish their degrees, find employment, and gain financial independence in 21st century’s digital world.

So many students sent us individual thank you letters. A 3rd year medical school student who was struggling to conduct her studies via her phone prior to receiving her computer summarized friends of BTF’s ultimate goal in these and all projects the best: …You may rest assured that all your help, past, current and future, will be reciprocated when we pay it forward, to other people, students, kids, faster than the spread of Corona virus. We will build a civilized society where equality, generosity and kindness prevail

These are peculiar times calling for outstanding gifts… This is why we are extending our campaign through Valentine’s Day to provide additional 100 tablets to elementary school kids and 50 laptops for university students.

Why not gift your Valentine with a donation to Love4Education?

Why not donate to Laptops4Students and be a university student’s Valentine?

Why not spread the word?

Lets give the Gift of Education  this Valentine's Day...


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Organization Information

Bridge to Turkiye Fund

Location: Cary, NC - USA
Project Leader:
Sevda Aleckson
Cary, NC United States
$5,022 raised of $25,000 goal
55 donations
$19,978 to go
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