Welcome! Here you can learn about our “beyond high school” program and how to support our students.

NEW PHOTOS will be shared when we can meet our students in person again! But many of these students are still part of our program. Some exceptions are those who graduated in 2020: 4 from UW and 1 from WSU.

Our 2019-20 cohort: NEW students (above) and CONTINUING participants  (below).

Applications for the 2021-22 school year (for a fall 2021 start) will be opened in late February.

Due to the pandemic, we are accepting applications for students who want to start in winter or spring 2021 at any time.

Go to: “Apply for a Scholarship”

Our Scholarship/Mentoring Program

We began in 2007 to help 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 their families.  We offer financial scholarships for college or vocational education, and ongoing mentoring.  Any student who starts in Seattle at the 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.

We try to help our students succeed by:

  • getting to know every student by the end of senior year in high school
  • navigating college entry — summer help to enable start of school in the fall
  •  “gap funding” — filling gaps after financial aid and other scholarships are taken into account
  • offering funds for basic necessities like food, transportation, health related expenses, or other help, as needed
  • ensuring every student has a laptop and access to the internet
  • offering 1:1 and group mentoring to every recipient — support, tutoring, help with applications, looking for internships, letters of recommendation, English conversation and pronunciation…whatever is needed
  • enabling students to renew scholarship every year through their education
  • connecting students to available resources at their respective institutions
  • purchasing tools and other non-traditional supports for vocational students

This year, it is particularly important to understand why our students need financial help despite having access to financial aid and/or the Seattle Promise  (the city’s program giving 2 years of community college tuition for students lacking sufficient federal or state financial aid or whose family income is too high to qualify).

Financial aid, from federal, state, or local sources, is simply not enough to make attending college or vocational school easy or straightforward for our students.  And Seattle Promise only covers tuition gaps for students who don’t get enough financial aid.   Why do our students need extra help?  Because while trying to continue academic or vocational training in a wholly new language, most students work 20-40 hours a week to support themselves or their families, commute long hours to school and work (from less expensive distant neighborhoods), help with child care for siblings or extended family, and provide translation and support for non-English speaking parents.  Books, good, transportation, and rent are expensive and continued education is a luxury.

We are totally volunteer-run, so donated dollars go far.  We are a steering committee of eight volunteers, supported by many volunteer mentors, tutors, and fundraisers.  Our committee encompasses many professional backgrounds: school principal, teachers, education/evaluation consultant, social worker, school counselor, vice principal, nurse/administrator, strategic planner and organizational consultant, ELL teacher, artist, landscape architect, and former nun.

We know our students and their needs, so we can serve as an informed “conduit” between those who want to help this population, and those deserving of help.

ALL funds raised go directly to students*.  We raise funds through direct donations, foundation support from the Williams International Friendship Fund (a major contributor), an important partnership with the Rotary Club of the University District, Seattle, and from sales of our “Art Cards for Scholarships”.  Each year, we disburse all funds raised to our awardees. We help students with tuition, books, supplies, laptops, tools, transportation, food, and basic needs.  (*Note:  we now have a 6% charge for fiscal stewardship from the Alliance for Education, our only administrative expense.)

We have two outstanding partners in providing funds for students:  the Williams International Friendship Foundation, a major supporter, and the Rotary Club of the University District, Seattle.

We are a 501c3 non-profit and the Alliance for Education is our fiscal agent.

Since 2007, we’ve raised and distributed over $240,000 to over 200 students.

We collaborate with and learn from other college access and persistence programs, including Seattle Promise, CAN (College Access Now), College Bound, College Success Foundation, Fostering Scholars, TRIO, the Seattle College Access Network, and faculty at the University of Washington’s and Seattle University’s Education Departments.

Who We Serve

We serve newcomers from around the world who attended the Seattle World School  (SWS) 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.  The World School serves students from 11-21 years of age.  Some of our alumni choose to transfer to other area middle or high schools when they have sufficient English; others choose to stay at SWS through graduation.  Any student who has attended the SWS is eligible, regardless of what Seattle pubic 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 academic high achievers, as well as those who are making an effort and need that extra leg up to succeed.  Our awardees range from those who need to do remedial work at community college, to those able to go directly to a four year University.

Most of our students attend college or vocational 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 a face to face basis.  Most students begin at community colleges, and many are able to transfer to University after two or three years.

Student Quote

2020 update

In this challenging year, over 50 students are participating in our program. It’s a tribute to their tenacity, commitment, and adaptability. Our program has also adapted. This year we are helping with basic survival for many students — food for them and their families, rent, laptops, internet – whatever it takes to make it possible for students to continue their education. Our mentors and tutors are doing a fantastic job – helping as needed in a myriad of ways.

This year we partnered with the University District Rotary, who supported funding for 7 of our recipients. We look forward to continuing this relationship in 2021-22. The Williams International Friendship Foundation also continued to support our program in a significant way, helping us meet the extra needs of our students in this difficult time.

To all the generous donors – large and small – THANK YOU for stepping up to make difference this year.

We’ll be updating this site as possible — stay tuned!

2019-20 Scholarship Winners and Program Highlights

For 2019-20, 70 students were awarded scholarships and/or continued participation in our mentoring program.  Some awardees were already in college, and others are just starting out.  Some were first time applicants; others were prior recipients who are continuing in our program.

We awarded graduates of Seattle World School, Chief Sealth, Rainier Beach, Nathan Hale, Garfield, Ballard, and Franklin High Schools for 2019-20.  Our students’ countries of origin include: Cambodia, China, Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Kenya, Laos, Mali, Mexico, Palestine/Jordan, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Senegal, Somalia, Syria, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Awards ranged from $250 to $3500, depending on need, after FAFSA, WASFA, and other scholarships were taken into account.  Our careful interviewing and financial assessment process insured that funds went to the greatest needs.  We helped students avoid loans, and pay for tuition, books, supplies, tools, laptops, food, tests, glasses, health related expenses, and transportation.

Our students attend University of Washington (Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell); Washington State University; North, Central, and South Seattle Colleges; Bellevue, Shoreline, Edmonds, Pierce, South Puget Sound, and Renton Technical Colleges.

All students were offered mentorship.  Beginning college is a challenge for any student, but for students whose English isn’t perfect and whose parents know little about our educational system, it’s even harder.  We helped students understand financial aid and how to access funds, how to save money on books, how to register for classes, and where to find tutoring and support centers.  We helped students practice English, improve writing, work on math, prepare for job interviews, and look for internships.  We learned a lot from our students, and developed many long term relationships.

Our scholarship recipients have come a long way – from wars and religious persecution, political turmoil, interrupted education, and economic hardships – to a new country with a new language and culture.    Our students have overcome the odds to graduate from high school and begin college or vocational training.   They demonstrate a commitment to continued learning and improving their lives. They want to give something back, too.  Most are the first in their families to attend college and will be role models for their communities.

For more information, or to learn how to get involved, please contact the project Director, Nancy Peterfreund at npf2@comcast.net.

How to Contribute

Our program is growing and we need your help to meet the needs of our growing applicant pool.  Each year we give away all we have, so we are starting our campaign for 2020-21 as of now.  We love contributions of any size!  You can support students through direct donation (see below) or by purchasing student art cards, made from original artwork done by our students.  This is our “Art Cards for Scholarships” program.  Click Student Art Cards to learn where cards are sold around Seattle.

To make a tax deductible donation to the scholarship fund (Alliance Acct. #838, managed by the Alliance for Education), you can…

  • use a credit card  — CLICK the “Donate” Button below to donate online through the Alliance for Education website; designate your donation to Alliance for Education Acct  #838


  • write a check payable to Alliance for Education Acct. #838 and send to Alliance for Education, 509 Olive Way, Suite 500, Seattle, WA 98101


  • donate through a workplace program, including:
    Washington State Combined Fund Drive #1481175  (e.g. UW employees), or
    Microsoft Give:  Search for ‘Alliance for Education’ and when requesting match, enter ‘Seattle World School Scholarship – 838’ in the comments field.
  • Let us know if your workplace matches gifts — we have successfully matched with Microsoft, the Gates Foundation    Note:  We can register with your workplace matching program if you let us know

  • Donate through GiveBig, held each May.  We’re listed under Seattle World School Scholarships.


  •  Donate from a donor advised fund (DAF) such as Fidelity Charitable . Search for: Alliance for Education, our fiscal sponsor, and indicate that you want your gift to go to Acct. 838: SWS Scholarships. Our tax ID is: 91-1508191. Electronic transfers can also be arranged.


Purchase Student Art Cards at participating locations in Seattle and all proceeds will support the Scholarship program.  Individuals, organizations, or businesses can also order cards directly by contacting Nancy Peterfreund, npf2@comcast.net.

THANK YOU so much for your support!