Hey, who wants to start a scholarship?”

When Alvaro Bedoya sent that note to the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship listserv, he planted the seed for what would become a source of hope for so many immigrant students: the Esperanza Education Fund.

Born in Peru and raised in upstate New York, Alvaro had attended Harvard College and Yale Law School largely on scholarships. A first-year attorney at a corporate law firm, he now wanted to help young immigrants who were struggling to start their own American dreams. He shook hands with a law school classmate to create a $10,000 seed fund – and then tapped out that email.

The next morning, Alvaro’s email caught the eye of Alice Wang, an appellate lawyer for the DC Public Defender Service. The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Alice had risen to the top of her class at UT Austin, and eventually attended Harvard Law School, where she became an Executive Editor of the law review – also with the support of generous scholarships. They arranged to meet.

Alice was in … but they needed more help. Esperanza would need a Treasurer and a website, but Alvaro and Alice knew little about accounting or coding. Alice realized that her husband, Andy Felton – an economist and self-taught computer programmer – would be the perfect fit. Andy said yes. And so a little team was born.

Alice, Andy, and Alvaro took on the ambitious feat of creating the Esperanza Education Fund, a scholarship and mentorship program that honors the brightest young immigrant students in the DC area, regardless of ethnicity, national origin, or immigration status.

Bolstered by co-sponsorships from 11 local youth and immigrant organizations, the Esperanza Education Fund was launched on March 20, 2009.  Since then, the fund has received hundreds and hundreds of applications, awarded over half a million dollars in scholarships, and helped almost 70 deserving students take a step toward achieving their dreams through higher education and career mentorship.

Alvaro, Alice, and Andy were inspired to help. Learn more about how you can join us in offering hope and opportunity to local immigrant students.