Some 200 million rural Chinese live below the poverty line by the World Bank definition of $1.25 per day, implying that 40 million school-aged children are at risk of dropping out of school before their high school graduation. In order to combat this huge waste of human capital, the SOAR Foundation, for the past 20 years, 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.
While China has expanded basic education by mandating 9 years of schooling, in reality many in the countryside still lack access to this basic right. 25% to 60% of rural students across the country drop out in middle or high school, often due to economic hardships. Worse yet, college attendance rate in the rural areas is only 3%, denying most of the rural youth of a better economic future and upward social mobility. This project will benefit 1,000 students in rural China with SOAR scholarships.
SOAR runs its scholarship project as a streamlined and detailed process to combat this issue every year: 1) Distribute scholarship applications to students in the target regions through local school teachers and principals. 2) SOAR Evaluation Committee in the U.S reviews applications at three levels and make selections. 3) Our Beijing Office distributes the award funds directly to the recipients. 4) We pair mentors with students to provide academic guidance, moral support, and collect feedback.
SOAR Scholarship project will give 1,000 gifted students in rural China an opportunity to pursue their school or college education. Since 1995, many SOAR scholars have realized their dreams and permanently departed from a life of poverty. Success stories include some attending graduate schools, while others joining the workforce after college. In return, many become contributing members and future leaders of society, but also continue to give back to the community that they originate from.