Airbnb CEO and Obama announce US$100M scholarship
Former US President Barack Obama announced on May 16, 2022, he has teamed up with Airbnb's founder to launch a $100 million scholarship aimed at helping university students who pursue careers in public service. Source: Mandel Ngan/AFP

Are you a college student based in the US who is considering a public service career in the future? Are you intrigued by problems facing particular segments of society? Do you constantly think of ways in which you can contribute to the greater good to help make the world a better place?

The Voyager Scholarship Fund, founded by Airbnb owner Brian Chesky and former US president Barack Obama, is offering a 100 million US dollar scholarship fund that is open to junior and senior-year college students at an accredited four-year college or university in the US.

The scholarship aims to alleviate students’ college debt, provide meaningful travel experiences for students to expand their horizons, and provide a network of mentors and leaders to support them.

Interested? Here’s what you need to know about the scholarship:

The Voyager Scholarship Fund: What to know

Scholarship coverage

The Voyager Scholarship Fund will provide junior or senior year college students funding up to US$25,000 a year to help them pursue a public service career.

The scholarship also offers a Summer Voyage where students will receive a US$10,000 stipend and free Airbnb housing to pursue a summer work-travel experience between their junior and senior year of college. Students can also design their own Summer Voyage to gain exposure to new communities and experience in a chosen field.

Upon graduating from college or university, Airbnb will provide students with a US$2,000 travel credit every year for 10 years, totalling US$20,000. This will allow students to continue to broaden their horizons and forge new connections throughout their public service careers.

Scholarship recipients will also get to meet both Chesky and Obama during the annual summit in the fall. They will be talking about the role of empathy and understanding in leadership. Scholarship recipients will also get to hear from guest speakers on different approaches to service, and network with other Voyager recipients.

There’s also a speaker series which will allow students to access a network of leaders, who will expose them to new areas of innovation and service. Upon graduation, graduates will join the Obama Foundation’s global community, providing them with the Foundation resources and programming.

Eligibility requirements

This scholarship is open to US citizens, US permanent residents, or an individual granted deferred action status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Programme (DACA).

Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to public service and plan to pursue a public service career upon graduation. Students must maintain a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on the 4.0 scale, or equivalent.

Applicants must also enrol as a full-time junior student in college at an accredited four-year college or university in the US in the Fall of 2022. Students must also either have been finishing their sophomore year in the Spring of 2022, or are transferring to a four-year college from a two-year college for the 2022-23 junior academic year.


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What does a public service career entail?

“We have a broad definition of public service, which includes careers in government, non-profits or the private sector,” notes the Obama Foundation.

“A career in public service includes a range of occupations—from community organising to social work and from entrepreneurship to the arts—all committed to solving our biggest challenges together.”

Scholarship deadline

The deadline for the Voyager Scholarship falls on June 14, 2022.

Applicants will be notified of their application status by August 2022. The scholarship will be effective in September 2022.

To apply, click here.