Seattle World School Scholarship and Mentoring Program

Students, Counselors, and ELL Staff: APPLICATIONS FOR 2023-24 are now open and are due May 15, 2023.

Our Program

Since 2007, we’ve been helping Seattle refugees and immigrants continue and succeed in their education after high school, so they may more fully join our community, reach their potential, and help support themselves and their families.  We offer scholarships that pay for whatever is needed to continue college or job training, and ongoing 1:1 mentoring.  Any student who attended Seattle World School, and graduates from any Seattle public high school, is eligible to apply.  Scholarships are awarded based on need and commitment to continued education and training.

We help our students succeed by:

  • getting to know each applicant by end of senior year
  • support during summer before college to learn how financial aid works, choose classes, majors, learn school computer system, etc.
  • funds for tuition, fees, books, supplies as needed
  • funds for basic needs like food, transportation, rent, health related expenses, childcare
  • ensuring laptop and internet access
  • offering 1:1 mentoring support, tutoring, help with applications, internships, letters of recommendation, English practice…whatever is needed
  • renewing scholarships every year until educational goals are reached
  • connecting students to resources
  • purchasing tools and other non-traditional supports for vocational students

Why our students need our funding

Federal or state financial aid is often not enough to make attending college or vocational school possible for our students.  Some students do not qualify for this aid. Most students are working while going to school, to support themselves and their families. They have long commutes, they’re help with child care for siblings or extended family, they provide translation and support for non-English speaking relatives. Books, food, transportation, rent, and utilities are expensive and continued education is a luxury. Our funds help students avoid loans, work a few less hours, and take care of essential and emergency needs.

How we complement Seattle Promise

Seattle Promise is now available to all Seattle high school graduates. We work to complement their good efforts. Promise only pays for tuition after financial aid or scholarships are taken into account, is only available to current high school graduates, only covers Seattle community colleges, and only lasts for two years. Many of our students do not qualify. For those who qualify, Promise orientation and mentoring, but there are hundreds of students for every mentor. While helpful for many students, their standardized approach doesn’t serve needs of ELL students as well. More than half of our students are not in the Promise program, because they attend University of Washington, Shoreline, Edmonds, or othe community colleges, or were not part of Promise when they began school.

Your donations go to students, not administrative expenses

We are totally volunteer-run. Our steering committee,mentors, tutors, fundraisers, and web supporters are all volunteers. Among us are: teachers, education/evaluation consultant, social worker, school counselor, vice principal, nurse/administrator, strategic planner and organizational consultant, ELL teacher, artist, landscape architect, and a former nun. We’re united by our commitment and enjoyment in working with this very diverse and rewarding group of students.

ALL funds raised go directly to students*.  Funds are raised from direct donations, grants, and sales of our “Art Cards for Scholarships”.  We disburse all funds raised to our awardees. We are a 501c3 non-profit under the Alliance for Education. (*As our fiscal agent, the Alliance charges 6% of funds raised, our only administrative cost.)Since 2007, we’ve raised and distributed over $360,000 to over 275 students.

Who We Serve

We serve newcomers from around the world who attended the Seattle World School because they spoke little or no English when they arrived.  Our awardees are refugees and immigrants, very low income, with interrupted or limited educational opportunities.  SWS serves students from 11-21 years of age.  Some SWS alumni choose to transfer to other area schools when they have sufficient English; others choose to stay at SWS through graduation.  Any student who has ever attended the SWS is eligible for our program, regardless of what Seattle public high school they graduate from.

Our application process is competitive.   Students must demonstrate that they are hard workers, committed to learning, and goal directed. We support not only academic high achievers, but also those who are making an effort and need that extra leg up to succeed.  Awardees range from those who need to do remedial/basic work at community college, to those able to go directly to a four year university.

Most of our students attend programs in the Seattle area, due to financial constraints or desire to stay close to families.  This enables mentors to maintain relationships with students on in-person basis .  Most students begin at community colleges, and many are able to transfer to University after two or three years.

Student Quote

2022-23 Update

We’re getting back to “normal” this year, with 62 program participants. Nearly all are taking classes in person. We’re still helping with basic needs as well as whatever it takes for students to continue their education. Our mentors and tutors are doing a fantastic job – helping as needed in a myriad of ways – and we are finally able to meet our students in person.

Our generous donors really made a difference this year — THANK YOU so much for our long term and new supporters. We are particularly in debt to the Williams Family International Friendship Foundation for a substantial grant. Our students are grateful!

We served graduates of Seattle World School, Chief Sealth, Rainier Beach, Nathan Hale, Garfield, Ingraham, Roosevelt, and Franklin High Schools, as well as community college and University students. Our current students’ countries of origin include: Brazil, China, Congo, Columbia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, Mexico, Palestine/Jordan, Peru, Senegal, Somalia, Syria, Uzbekistan, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Awards ranged from $500 to $4000 depending on need, after FAFSA, WASFA, and other scholarships were taken into account.  Careful interviewing and financial needs assessment insure that funds go where they’re needed most.  We’re helping with rent and utility payments, food cards, laptops, tuition, test fees, books, supplies, tools, glasses, health related expenses, and transportation.

Our current students attend University of Washington (Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell); North, Central, and South Seattle Colleges; Bellevue, Shoreline, and Edmonds community colleges; and Renton Technical College. They are budding doctors, medical researchers, construction managers, electrical engineers, computer programmers, information managers, cyber security experts, dental hygienists, nurses, auto mechanics, business developers, accountants, aviation technicians, nursing assistants, surgical assistants, social workers, health advocates, urban planners, environmental resource managers, and more.

All students were offered mentoring and most took us up on the offer. We helped students with financial aid challenges, class registration and changes, connecting to tutoring and other resources, and navigating work, school, and family demands. We provided tutoring for math and physics, negotiated with landlords, found small jobs for students (gardening, etc.) helped with transfers from community college to UW, connected students to internships, and more.

For more information, or to learn how to get involved, please contact the project Director, Nancy Peterfreund at