Funding the Future with Action-Based Scholarships: Smarter in the City Startup ScholarJet

| Tuan Ho, CEO & Co-founder of ScholarJet

Have you heard? Boston is the tech hub you never knew existed. With plenty of startups, organizations, and corporations embracing tech in the Boston area, we’re always ready to celebrate innovation around us. That’s why we’re happy to support Smarter in the City, the first high-tech startup accelerator in Dudley Square, Roxbury. Smarter in the City’s accelerator program adds fresh voices to Boston’s tech ecosystem, one startup at a time through a five-month program that provides stipends, workspace, a mentorship program, and other resources to help local startups make an impact. We’re excited to bring Smarter in the City’s cohort to our blog as we spotlight the current companies working to drive innovation in Boston and beyond.

— Aimee Sprung, Civic Engagement Manager, Microsoft New England

Giving up everything in Vietnam, my mom took a chance and brought my brother and me to the U.S. in 2005. I was 10 years old and without any formal English lessons, the thought of leaving our country to go to another was terrifying. Yet my mom worked tirelessly to provide for us. She believed with her whole heart that, with an education, we could do anything. I rarely saw my mom growing up because she worked tirelessly…as a cook, at nail salons and caring for Cerebral Palsy patients, amongst countless other jobs. With exhausted eyes in front of the stove, day after day, was her unwavering smile as she cooked dinner for us – a seemingly effortless task that took so much strength.

The endless devotion she showed us during those years is still the source of my motivation. I thought that if I could just outwork everyone around me, eventually my mom could stop working. So during my senior year of Boston Latin Academy, I was studying for the SAT, taking AP classes, participating in extracurricular activities, and volunteering.

I thought all of my hard work paid off when I was accepted to Northeastern University. But the cost of $60,000 per year was unimaginable; there was no way we could afford it. So I did everything I could. I wrote over 120 essays to apply for over 40 scholarships in hopes of funding my education. Which I did – earning over $500,000 in scholarships.

Students currently endure the largest student loan crisis in our nation’s history, with a national student loan debt of over $1.4 trillion and an astonishing lack of immigrant students’ access to education. So my team and I created ScholarJet.

ScholarJet is the future of scholarships. We are changing the way students finance their education and the way donors give through “action-based scholarships.”

The foundation of ScholarJet is our firm belief that “it is not who you are underneath, but what you do that defines you.” Our scholarships enable students to show their true potential through challenges related to STEM, arts/media, community service, and health. Instead of writing essays, students can run marathons, paint paintings or even develop apps.

To fund these scholarships, we work with individual donors and philanthropic organizations. Donors are provided a unique opportunity to inspire and motivate students, while organizations can promote their mission through student’s actions. This is all done through our robust web platform that streamlines the entire scholarship process.

Here’s a video showcasing our scholarship at Northeastern:

YouTube Video

ScholarJet was recently accepted into MassChallenge’s 2017 Boston Accelerator program, won $20K from the Vietnamese Global Entrepreneurship Challenge, won the Greenhorn Summit Pitch Competition and Mass Innovation Nights #92. We are also a part of Smarter In The City and the Northeastern IDEA Venture Accelerator.

We’re looking to connect with individual donors and companies who want to create impacts that go beyond the scholarship amount and help us become the future of scholarships. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin, and Facebook!

Coming to the U.S. from Vietnam when he was 10 years old, Tuan Ho understands the value in pursuing his education. With the help of his mother, he relentlessly pushed himself to work hard in high school while helping out the community around him, eventually graduating Boston Latin Academy with high honors. In order to pay for college, Tuan took matters into his own hands and applied for over 40 scholarships. Now he is attending Northeastern University on a full ride, studying mechanical engineering. Because of the adversity he had faced, Tuan started ScholarJet with the vision of increasing access to higher education for students. He strongly believes that it is not who you are underneath, but your actions that define you.

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