B2R Scholars Program Overview
The Scholars Program has progressed rapidly since its start in 2011. The program has developed into three distinct phases:
Year One: Gap-Year of Preparation
For the first 12 months of the program, the scholars are required to live together in the B2R dormitory, a private residence near the B2R Training and Career Center on the campus of the University of Rwanda College of Business and Economics in Kigali. To bind them into a cohesive and supportive fellowship, the students are challenged to not to just earn a scholarship for themselves, but rather to work together to earn forty scholarships for the whole group.
The gap-year faculty includes English teachers, Kaplan test prep instructors, college counselors, a mental health counselor, career development advisors, and a housemother. The curriculum includes:
- Academic preparation – English language skills, critical thinking, problem solving and test preparation
- Character development and servant leadership training
- College counseling
- Career counseling, mentoring and industry insight visits
- Community service projects
- College ready preparation and training
Since 2012, the B2R Scholars Program has helped 165 scholars earn more than $40 million in international scholarships to 70 universities and colleges in eight countries. Generally, the scholarships must provide all tuition, fees and room & board for four years – at least 90 percent of the cost of a four-year undergraduate degree for an international student.
Years Two to Five: Study Abroad
B2R challenges its scholars to accomplish two significant goals during the four years they are studying abroad. First, to earn an undergraduate degree in four years with a respectable GPA of 3.0 or more. Second, to build a network of international friends for whom the scholar can serve as a “bridge to Rwanda” or their home country for a lifetime.
Being an international student in a foreign country can be challenging and stressful. To ensure B2R’s scholars succeed academically, emotionally, and socially, B2R provides a network of support for each scholar, including:
- Student Support Coordinator – U.S.-based counselors who schedule regular monthly calls with the scholars to review their academic performance, social life, health, financial needs and any other issue that might arise. Scholars have the same coordinator for all four years.
- Host Family – Local volunteers who offer their personal guidance; emotional, social and spiritual encouragement; and a home away from home for the scholars, particularly during school holidays and breaks when school is not in session. Most host families also provide some financial support to cover essential school and living expenses not affordable to the student or their family and not provided by their university scholarship.
- Scholar Support Fund – B2R helps fund essential school and living expenses that the student and their family can’t afford and that are not provided by their university scholarship or the local host family.
Career Development: Counseling, Summer Internships, and Permanent Jobs
B2R has established a Career Development team in Kigali, staffed with B2R Scholar university graduates, with responsibility for servant leadership training, career counseling, and arranging summer internships and permanent jobs in Rwanda or elsewhere in Africa. The goal of these activities is to effectively guarantee that every B2R Scholar will return home after they graduate and can secure a good job in Africa.
- During the gap-year, Career Development provides leadership training with an emphasis on a leader’s role as a servant to the mission and to others. They are also responsible for organizing the scholars’ hands-on community service projects. This mindset of “giving back” is instilled and nurtured throughout the five years of the program.
- Career counseling begins in the gap-year with personal assessments to help each identify their gifts, values, interests, and ideal vocational choices. This is combined with a realistic understanding of Africa’s growth sectors, employers, and career opportunities. These insights guide the scholar’s choice of academic major and summer internships.
- Career Development is responsible for building and nurturing a network of over 60 employers in Rwanda and East Africa who will partner with B2R to provide summer internships and permanent jobs. In 2016, B2R helped arrange over 120 summer internships in Africa. The summer internship program is made even more meaningful to the scholars by including research projects, community service projects, and gatherings with their peers and Rwandan (home country) leaders.