Russian-Armenian impact investors and social entrepreneurs Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend have collaborated with Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group, a global group of companies based in India, committing together to US$ 7.5 million in funding to provide need-based scholarships to meritorious students worldwide to study at one of the UWC (United World Colleges) schools and colleges.
All three philanthropists are strong supporters of the UWC educational movement – Vardanyan and Zonabend founded UWC Dilijan in Armenia in 2014, and Mahindra Group, led by Anand Mahindra, established UWC Mahindra College in India in 1997.
Under the new commitment, Mahindra Group will contribute INR 150 million (approx. US$ 2.3 million) over the next five years to support need-based scholarships for students admitted to UWC Mahindra College. Half of this gift will provide scholarship grants for Indian students, while the rest will be used for scholarship grants for students selected through UWC national committees outside India.
In parallel, the Scholae Mundi Foundation, founded by Vardanyan and Zonabend, has allocated approximately US$ 5.2 millionto fund need-based scholarships for the coming academic year. US$ 3.7 million will be dedicated to scholarships for international students selected to study at UWC Dilijan in Armenia. The remaining US$ 1.5 million will be allocated to scholarships for students from Armenia, Georgia and Russia to study at one of the other 16 UWC schools and colleges, including UWC Mahindra College. The Scholae Mundi Foundation has already announced a continued commitment in the years to come to enable future scholarship funding.
Sir John Daniel, Chair of UWC International commented:
“This extraordinary initiative of great entrepreneurs from different parts of the world will enable the UWC movement to reach out to more young people and provide them with a world-class international education. Learning and living at one of the 17 UWC colleges will support them in gaining the skills and intercultural competency needed to become ethical leaders for a better future.”
Furthermore, in recognition of this collaborative scholarship funding commitment, UWC Mahindra College and UWC Dilijan have also committed to support cross-scholarships: UWC Mahindra College will offer a place and a need-based scholarship covering up to 100% of all costs to a student from Armenia. Likewise, UWC Dilijan will offer a place and a need-based scholarship covering up to 100% of all costs to a student from India, for the next five years.
Anand Mahindra said:
“In today’s challenging, uncertain and fast-changing global environment, it is imperative to widen access to opportunities for meritorious students with potential for strong leadership. We hope that our commitment will serve as a catalyst to enhance the impact of the UWC movement and help train extraordinary leaders for the next generation who can navigate the complexity of the world around us with ease”.
Veronika Zonabend, Co-Founder and Chair of the Board of Governors of UWC Dilijan in Armenia, member of the Board of Trustees of UWC International (UK):
“In this increasingly interconnected and rapidly developing world, it is of vital importance to nurture open-minded, wise leaders with strong humanitarian values, capable of charting a course through uncertain times and playing a pivotal role in caring for local and global communities. We believe that UWC education creates these types of leaders and that the SM Scholarship program will help to make this network more inclusive.”