Providing college scholarships and professional mentorship to Washington Metro Area immigrant students, regardless of national origin, ethnicity, or immigration status.
Immigrants in the area are 3 times more likely to lack a high school diploma than their native-born peers, and 50% more likely to have never gone to college.
Although the capital region has emerged as one of the nation’s fastest-growing and most diverse immigrant gateways, this growth has not translated into equal educational opportunities.
The Esperanza Education Fund helps bridge that gap by providing scholarships to students who can’t get help elsewhere. We help immigrant students achieve their dreams through higher education regardless of their national origin, ethnicity, or immigration status.
But we do more than help finance the education of driven, promising immigrant students. We help all of our scholars take full advantage of their higher education, providing academic and career advice by accomplished professionals in the career path they choose.
Founded and operated by a diverse group of young professionals in the Washington Metropolitan Area, we are proud to be a volunteer-led and community-financed organization making an impact where our organization has its roots.
Our community makes it possible.
Without our volunteers, Esperanza cannot make the impact we have on so many deserving students. Our network of 150 volunteers read applications, run our social media, host fundraising events, interview scholars, mentor scholars and much more. These accomplished professionals hold elite jobs at top organizations by day, and take time to give back to the next generation of leaders in their respective fields by night.
WE ENVISION A COMMUNITY WHERE:
All immigrant students, regardless of immigration status, have access to the higher education, professional networks, and social support they need to fulfill their potential and flourish in American society.
Young professionals invest in their local communities, gain enriching relationships and experiences, and develop professional connections and leadership skills through their volunteerism and social entrepreneurship.
Immigrant students and young professionals from all walks of life and all around the world come together to form a new community through which we inspire and energize each other, recognize our linked fates, and celebrate our common humanity.
We believe that all students should have access to higher education, no matter where they come from or how they got here.
“Merit” can be measured not only by academic and extracurricular achievement, but also the hard work, resourcefulness, and perseverance necessary to overcome obstacles unique to the immigrant experience.
The investment of time, in concert with capital investment, makes a long-lasting impact on our scholars.
Our volunteers and donors make lasting friendships with like-minded peers and develop professional connections and leadership skills through volunteerism and philanthropy.
Our Board and Committee meetings are open to anyone interested, and we are receptive to new ideas for achieving our mission.
“Hey, who wants to start a scholarship?"
When Alvaro Bedoya sent that note to the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship list serv, 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, but Alvaro and Alice knew little about accounting. Alice realized that her husband, Andy Felton – an economist – would be the perfect fit. Andy said yes. And so a little, ambitious team was born.
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 thousands of applications, awarded over one million dollars in scholarships, and helped 125 deserving students take a step toward achieving their dreams through higher education and career mentorship.