University announces full scholarship program for 10 D.C. students

Initiative aims to engage community, offer opportunities to local students

University announces full scholarship program for 10 D.C. students

Mary Graydon Center and the American University Flagpoles on the Quad

American University announced a new program that will offer 10 D.C. public and charter school students with full scholarships to the University for the 2020-2021 academic year. 

Starting in 2020, this opportunity, known as the District Scholars Award, will be granted to “high-achieving” students from the District “to enhance access to high quality education and support the Washington, D.C. community,” according to an announcement made by the University on Wednesday. 

“One of the imperatives in our Changemakers strategic plan is partnering with our Washington, D.C. community, and these scholarships will help local students pursue their educational goals close to home and join fellow Eagles in shaping the future of their neighborhood and the world,” said President Sylvia Burwell in the announcement. 

AU spokesperson Kelly Alexander said that this scholarship is part of Burwell’s five-year strategic plan to work and partner more within the D.C. community. Andrea Felder, the assistant vice provost for undergraduate admissions, said that while the initiative is based off of the plan to create a pipeline between the University and D.C. public schools, it also presents an opportunity to foster diversity on campus.

“We wanted to be able to extend our reach here within enrollment to our D.C. community,” Felder said. “Certainly because those who attend D.C. public and public charter high schools are of diverse backgrounds, we know that the effects may be to increase the level of diversity within our first-year class."

The University dedicated $3 million to the effort, which will cover full tuition, room and board, meal plans, textbooks and any other fees associated with academics, Alexander said. Students will need to demonstrate academic achievement, in addition to financial need, to qualify for the award. 

The School of Education launched an initiative last summer to establish a partnership with the D.C. public schools, as previously reported by The Eagle. The dual enrollment program allows D.C. public school seniors to take two classes in SOE for free. The goal was to encourage students to pursue teaching careers in D.C.

“American University strives to offer new avenues for learning, and I hope that local students who may not have seen AU as an option before, will apply and compete to be an AU District Scholar awardee,” said Sharon Alston, vice provost for undergraduate enrollment, in the press release.    

Lydia Calitri contributed reporting to this story. 

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