Two local Islamic organizations are reaching into their wallets to provide emergency funds for deserving college students. Scholars for the World and the Islamic Leadership Institute of America, two local non-profit organizations focused on education, aim to provide scholarship funding to undergraduate college students in the United States in the fall of 2012. These scholarships will be worth $500 each.
In addition to the financial aid, the scholarships include ILIA mentoring services and computers for the students. The undergraduate scholarships, which cover any major at any accredited college, are good for one semester, but applicants are welcome to reapply. Applicants who receive these scholarships are likely to receive it again if they reapply, according to Scholars for the World founder Abdul Qadir Sennaar.
The organizations raised money for the scholarships by applying for grants, conducting an elaborate mail campaign, hosting a fundraising dinner, holding monthly car washes and soliciting donations from individual donors. Those interested can make their tax deductible donations directly on the ILIA website.
Abdul Qadir, having two daughters of his own, found it difficult hunting for scholarships. While working to fund his daughters’ education, Abdul Qadir met others who needed help. He believes that there are a lot of talented students that are not able to get into top-notch schools. Abdul Qadir received a scholarship for his college education, and this scholarship effort is his way of giving back to the community, in an area where he sees a desperate need.
According to a survey of more than 600 people aged 22 to 30 conducted by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan research group, “most dropouts leave college because they have trouble going to school while working to support themselves.” About 35 percent of college students surveyed in research funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said that balancing work and school was too stressful.
“This phenomena is further compounded in the Muslim community,” said Ayman Nassar, founder and chair of ILIA’s board of directors. “We are starting to see many youth not continue their education in our communities because they are forced to work longer hours to make ends meet.”
ILIA’s newly established board of scholarship is still determining the requirements for eligibility, but they will show a preference for students under financial strain. Students hoping to apply should contact ILIA at 240-765-7151 or visit their website at www.islamicleadership.org. Applicants can be of any religion.
This scholarship will be a long-term effort and is intended to grow each year. The first year is the establishment phase, and the second year will be a reinforcement phase to see if the scholarship program can hold on to its donors. By the third year, Abdul Qadir hopes to double the scholarship money, maybe even triple it.
“This is a dream come true for me,” Abdul Qadir said. “By giving out these scholarships I hope to make this world a better place.”