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Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University

Obama Foundation Scholars at Columbia University are based at Columbia World Projects, an initiative that mobilizes the university’s researchers and scholars to work with governments, organizations, businesses, and communities to create tangible solutions to real-world issues. The program takes advantage of the unique opportunities for engagement that come with being at one of the world’s most important centers of research and residing in New York City.

Key components of the program at Columbia University include:

  • A Weekly Seminar

  • Personal and Professional Development Workshops

  • An Experiential Learning

  • Audited Coursework

  • A Thought Leadership Speaker Series

  • Partnership with a Columbia faculty adviser

  • Engaging with the Columbia University community

Eligibility Requirements

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University seeks rising leaders from the United States and around the world who meet the following criteria:

  • Are emerging leaders who have made meaningful contributions to their field and are now at a “breakthrough moment” in their careers.

  • Have a proven commitment to service and leadership within a community, region or country, coupled with a demonstrated commitment to return to these communities following their completion of the program and apply their enhanced training, skills, and connections on a long-term basis for the benefit of these communities.

  • Are fluent in English (verbal, written and spoken).

  • Have the ability and inclination to positively shape the future of their community.

  • Have a demonstrated commitment to inclusivity, community-orientation, hope, courage, imagination, strategy, accountability, integrity and resilience.

Scholar Benefits

  • Monthly stipend to assist with living expenses in New York City

  • A furnished studio apartment within walking distance of Columbia University

  • All tuition and fees for up to four courses at Columbia University

  • Basic medical, dental and life insurance for the duration of the program in New York City

  • Air travel to and from home country and any program-related activities

The Scholars program at Columbia University empowers individuals with a proven commitment to service with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective, to identify innovative solutions to complex global problems, and promote change through values-based leadership. The fellowship is a full-time, residential program at Columbia and cannot be undertaken at the same time as a degree program. The deadline to complete an online application is by 5 p.m. ET on December 12, 2023.


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