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The Western Union Foundation Supports International Students Impacted By COVID-19

September 17, 2020 – The Western Union Foundation has announced a commitment of USD $250,000 to provide aid for international students struggling to fund tuition and basic needs such as healthcare, wellness, food, and housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Western Union Foundation's grant will deliver support to up to 25 students in need, who will each receive USD $10,000. Priority will be given to refugees and migrants in New Zealand, as well as Australia, Canada, France, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Foundation will work with the Institute of International Education (IIE) to deliver the grants. IIE’s recent research on the impacts of COVID found that while colleges and universities are prioritising the health and wellbeing of their international students, travel restrictions and fewer options for jobs have left some of the most vulnerable international students with a significant financial need.

More than five million international students pursuing higher education contributed to an estimated global economic impact of $300 billion in 2016, driven largely by students from lower-income countries in search of better education, careers, and life, according to StudyPortals.

"COVID-19 has upended the entire world, including the plans and wellbeing of international students. Behind every international student statistic, there is a story of a young person who made the brave decision to leave their home and travel abroad, and often their families have made real sacrifices to make that possible,” said Elizabeth Roscoe, Global Head, Corporate Brand and Purpose for Western Union and Executive Director of the Western Union Foundation.

"The Western Union Foundation believes that international students are an integral part of a growing community of global citizens. They are international ambassadors leading academic excellence, research, and cultural experiences. They contribute to an inclusive, innovative, and interconnected society and workforce, both globally and locally," Roscoe continued.

This initiative builds upon the success of the Foundation's WU Scholars Program, which over the past three years, has helped more than 500 students with their international studies in 100 countries at more than 150 colleges and universities.

"We are proud to partner with the Western Union Foundation to provide this significant funding to students in need of assistance to continue their education," said Dr. Allan Goodman, President, and CEO, Institute of International Education (IIE). "The COVID-19 pandemic has created chaos, and we have heard directly from thousands of students that their financial needs are greater than ever and that many are at risk of not completing their degrees."

IIE is accepting nominations for the WU Scholars grants through September 30, 2020. Students can be nominated by their universities or other higher education institutions, as well as IIE's partner institution network. Eligibility requirements include:

  • Must be an international student already enrolled in the 2020 academic year and already residing in the country of study.
  • Must be able to demonstrate a severe disruption to their ability to pay for expenses (tuition & fees, health insurance, housing).

Western Union and the Western Union Foundation have supported COVID-19 relief from the earliest days of the pandemic, kicking off a USD $1M matching appeal in February. To date, their relief efforts have supported global healthcare systems, domestic hunger-relief, and education for vulnerable populations, including refugees and migrants, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Western Union Foundation invites the world community, including corporations and foundations, to come together to support the most vulnerable populations seeking to better themselves through education and job skills training by donating through its website, rounding up on the Western Union mobile app or by reaching out via email at wufoundation@westernunion.com.

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