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Regional News

Scholarships awarded to Micronesian students

HABELE (Washington, D.C.) — A U.S.-based charity is awarding 23 students in Micronesia scholarships to attend the K-12 school of their parents’ choosing.

Four of the 23 Micronesian students awarded scholarships pose for a photo. Contributed photoFour of the 23 Micronesian students awarded scholarships pose for a photo. Contributed photoThe scholarships, which cover three-quarters of each students’ tuition fees, will allow low-income children from rural communities and distant outer islands to attend prestigious private schools in the Micronesian state capitals. The students were selected from a pool of 60 new applicants and former winners who sought the financial assistance.

“Habele is exceptionally proud to be supporting 23 students from nine different islands attending six separate schools in three Micronesian states,” explained Alex Sidles, Habele director. “Each year we receive more worthy applications than we have the money to support, which makes our decisions quite difficult,” Sidles continued. “We target that support at the elementary and high school level because that is where we see the starkest need.”

Data from the U.S. government indicates that half of all Micronesians over age 25 dropped out of school before earning a high school diploma. Among those who enroll in the island nation’s community college system, just one-in-ten complete a four-semester term of study within three school years.

The all-volunteer group has been awarding scholarships to students attending non-public schools since 2006, when it was incorporated by a group of former Peace Corps volunteers. The organization also supports students through donations of library books and support of after-school programs including robotics clubs and traditional canoe carving.

Each scholarship winner is required to provide Habele with copies of her report card, a thank you letter and one photograph during the course of the school year. New applicants also submit details of her family’s financial situation and those applying to renew their scholarships must re-submit her application forms each year. “We try to keep the paperwork burden to a minimum,” Sidles explained, “but we also have an obligation to our generous donors in the U.S. to show them how we are using their money in a fair, consistent and impartial way.”

Checks will be mailed directly to the schools and parents will be notified by the final week of July.

Those interested in applying for a scholarship, or supporting Habele’s work in Micronesia, can learn more online at www.habele.org.