Today, President and Mrs. Obama and Brian Chesky, Airbnb co-founder and CEO, announced the Voyager Scholarship, The Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service.
The Obamas and Brian Chesky share the belief that connection doesn’t just enrich our own lives—it helps societies come together, forge common bonds, and solve big problems. It’s why President and Mrs. Obama started the Obama Foundation and it’s an idea at the core of Airbnb. That’s why the Obamas and Chesky are coming together to launch a scholarship for students pursuing careers in public service by providing access to travel and education.
Funded by a $100 million personal contribution from Chesky to the Obama Foundation, the Voyager Scholarship gives college students financial aid to help alleviate the burden of college debt, meaningful travel experiences to expand their horizons, and a network of mentors and leaders to support them throughout their careers. The scholarship is anticipated to support 100 students in the first year and scale to support greater numbers of students over the coming years who are committed to entering careers in public service.
“If we want this next generation of leaders to be able to do what they need to do, they have to meet each other. They have to know each other. They have to understand each other’s communities,” said President Obama in the announcement video, “You’re going to find young people from every corner of this country who are going to be future change makers. There are leaders everywhere. We just have to find them.”
“We need a generation of leaders who are willing to cooperate and build bridges, but it’s hard to build a bridge if you haven’t seen the other side of the river,” said Chesky. “The Voyager Scholarship will broaden their horizons and give these young leaders tools and experiences that will shape their careers. There are young people across the country who have a passion for public service, but can’t pursue it because of their student loan debt. We want to help reduce that burden.”
“Education is personal for me,” said former First Lady Michelle Obama, “I’ve met so many young people who are interested in public service, but they’re wondering how they’re going to pay for school or whether they’ll get to see the world beyond their own community. We could not be more grateful to team up with Brian to help out these young people on their journey to create change.”
The Voyager Scholarship is a two-year program for students in their junior and senior years of college from across the United States who are committed to pursuing careers that serve the public and their communities. Voyagers will receive:
- Up to $50,000 in financial aid: Students will receive up to $25,000 per year in financial aid for their junior and senior years of college. This financial aid should alleviate the burden of college debt so that students can afford to pursue a career in public service.
- Summer Voyage: Students will receive a $10,000 stipend and free Airbnb housing to pursue a summer work-travel experience between their junior and senior year of college. The students will design their own summer voyage to gain exposure to new communities and experience in a chosen field.
- 10-year travel stipend: After graduation, Airbnb will provide the students with a $2,000 travel credit every year for 10 years, totaling $20,000. This will allow students to continue to broaden their horizons and forge new connections throughout their public service careers.
- Fall Summit: Students will be invited to an annual summit to help define their public service voyage. At the summit this fall, they will meet with President Obama and Brian Chesky to talk about the role of empathy and understanding in leadership. They’ll also hear from guest speakers on different approaches to service and connect with other scholarship recipients.
- Network of leaders: Throughout the program, students will be invited to an ongoing speaker series, giving them access to a network of leaders. This network of leaders will expose them to new areas of service and innovations happening in their fields. After graduation, they will join the Obama Foundation’s global community, providing them with Foundation resources and programming.
Applications are open to undergraduate students entering their junior year of college at an accredited four year college or university in the United States. Applications will be accepted beginning today and must be received by June 14, 2022. Approximately 100 students will join the inaugural class of Voyagers. Accepted students will be notified in September.
For more information and to apply, visit voyager-scholarship.obama.org.