YEREVAN—The COAF Jack & Zarig Youredjian Scholarship Fund has awarded a total of 352 scholarships since its inception in 2019. The fund’s objective is to provide aspiring students from COAF-supported rural communities with the life-altering opportunity to pursue higher education at Armenia’s leading universities. An overwhelmingly large number of Armenia’s rural youth can’t afford university tuition, and most are in need of financial assistance after high school.
Benefactors Mr. and Mrs. Jack and Zarig Youredjian of Los Angeles established their scholarship fund for COAF during a trip to Armenia in 2019 upon realizing how many rural youth are in dire need of financial assistance to pursue a higher education. Their fund is committed to providing university scholarships to COAF Alumni from over 50 beneficiary villages. Recipients must demonstrate exemplary leadership, academic excellence, integrity, and good citizenship. A student’s entire tuition until graduation is covered, whether an undergraduate or graduate degree is earned.
The first Youredjian scholarships were awarded during the 2020-2021 academic year, providing vital support to students from rural Armenia who were confronted with the pandemic and devastating war. Fields of study included pedagogy, business management, IT, medicine, and law. Currently, 87 percent of those who have graduated are already working in their areas of expertise.
The Youredjian Scholarship Program also features an important component in addition to awarding scholarships. Students are offered career development packages while studying. These include internships, mentorships, employability skills training and community development projects for their hometowns.
Many scholarship recipients have already initiated projects in their local communities. One example is Argishti Aleksanyan, a software engineer who has organized computer programming and professional orientation workshops for middle school students in his hometown of Dalarik (Armavir Province). “The scholarship has been a true blessing. It’s inspired me to share my knowledge and skills with the young people in my community. I’ve been working in my field of study for 2 years now, and that’s in part thanks to my mentors at HSBC Armenia, who taught me essential workplace skills,” said Argishti, who graduated from the Yerevan State University of Architecture and Construction this summer.
The Jack and Zarig Youredjian Scholarship Fund is just one of many philanthropic initiatives undertaken by the Youredjian Family in providing opportunities for underserved communities in Armenia and worldwide. Additional significant contributions to COAF include funding SMART Initiatives in the Lori and Armavir provinces, the construction of the Regional Health Center in Dsegh, continuous support extended to Child & Family Centers and economic development projects in the regions of Armenia. The Youredjians received COAF’s 2019 Humanitarian Award at the 16th Annual COAF Holiday Gala in recognition of their outstanding charitable work.
The Children of Armenia Fund (COAF) is a non-profit, non-governmental organization that employs community-led approaches aimed at improving the quality of life in rural Armenia, with a particular focus on children and youth. COAF’s target development areas are education, healthcare, social and economic development. COAF launched its programs in 2004, starting in one village and expanding to 66 villages in Armavir, Aragatsotn, Lori, Gegharkunik, Shirak, and Tavush regions, impacting more than 107,000 beneficiaries.
Since 2015, COAF has developed and started implementing the SMART Initiative. COAF SMART is designed to advance a generation across the rural world through education that will benefit individuals, societies, and the environment. As an exemplary model of development, COAF SMART will be replicated in other regions and communities throughout Armenia. The first COAF SMART Center was inaugurated on May 27, 2018, near the village of Debet, Lori Region.