The Wishing Chair Foundation is a not-for-profit charitable organization that was formed in June of 2018. Its inception followed a growing awareness of the need to create mechanisms of financial support for underrepresented students from the United States to access educational study programs abroad. The mission of The Wishing Chair Foundation is to offer financial support to the underrepresented student so that they can participate in educational study programs in Ireland.
Why Ireland? Ireland is a safe, friendly, English-speaking country with a rich history and culture, which is still very visible and present. The narratives of the Irish experience are shared by many other cultures, and these shared histories provide an effective lens through which to think critically and comparatively about the past and the present.
The Foundation is overseen by Executive Director Mary Cronin, who joined in June of 2018. The Foundation is incorporated in Washington, D.C. and received its Federal 501(c)(3) approval in August of 2018.
The Foundation addresses a need. There are 1,132 community college institutions in United States serving 12.8 million students. This accounts for 45 percent of all undergraduate students in the United States, and represents 56 percent of the Hispanic population, and 48 percent of the African American population. Research on educational study abroad programming in the community college sector consistently identifies cost, family and cultural influence, lack of awareness, financial aid restrictions, and concerns about time among the barriers to study abroad access.
We believe that the choice of Ireland as a destination for short (2 weeks or less) study abroad programs addresses significant issues among underrepresented students, such as fear of travel, fear of navigating a new territory, and fear of dealing with language and cultural barriers. However, affordability is a very significant barrier for many. The Foundation is intended to support the underrepresented student, who may be defined in any of these categories: low income, first generation, minority, or non-traditional.
The Wishing Chair Foundation will support underrepresented U.S. students who wish to participate in educational study programs in Ireland.
Social impact is achievable. Research supports our thesis that study abroad changes lives. A correlation between study abroad and graduation rates has been established by several studies. Other research has focused on student engagement, independence, perseverance, and confidence, all of which have been found to positively inform learning outcomes. Short-term study abroad program participants demonstrate gains in confidence, increased decision-making, independence and academic focus.
The Wishing Chair Foundation will support underrepresented students, who choose to enroll in an educational study program in Ireland, by providing them with adequate funding necessary to alleviate some or all of the financial burden. The educational study abroad program must have a verifiable educational syllabus with defined learning outcomes, and it must take place in Ireland. Educators and staff in U.S. community colleges, high schools and universities, or within community-based organizations will identify the recipients of the funding. Students will have to satisfy several criteria to qualify for funding.
Our goal for 2020/2021 is to create a fund of $50,000.
The Wishing Chair Foundation has very low overhead and organizational costs by design, and we will make a commitment that ALL donations to the Foundation will go directly to deserving student/s. We rely heavily on a network of caring teachers, administrators and educational professionals who genuinely want to make a difference. We do not hire professional fundraisers, and we prefer word-of -mouth referrals to spread the word that The Wishing Chair Foundation changes lives. Private donors have committed to covering our modest operating expenses so we can guarantee that 100 percent of your donation goes directly to student scholarships.
The Wishing Chair Foundation is in the beginning stages of establishing six chapters affiliated with communities demonstrating an overwhelming need to send underrepresented students to Ireland. These communities are in North Carolina, New Jersey, Oregon, Georgia, Alabama and Nebraska.
Success will be measured. The Wishing Chair Foundation helps makes educational study abroad a reality by providing educational scholarships to underrepresented students in the United States, who could not otherwise afford these life-changing programs. We will measure the effectiveness and impact of the Foundation through research partnerships with our colleges and students.