Supporting the Education of New Americans

For centuries, the contributions of immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees have made our nation stronger. Since 1998, we have awarded 805 Fellows from 103 countries more than $80 million to pursue the graduate degrees of their choosing across a breadth of areas from screenwriting to medicine; from physics to painting; from law to neuroscience and from opera to mechanical engineering. 

A man in his 20s with dark skin tone and short black hair, wears a black and white blazer and looks just past the camera as he gestures with both hands at a gathering for the Fellowship's Fall Conference.

2,300

annual applications


805

Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows


26 years

supporting immigrants and children of immigrants

WHAT WE dO

Education Support

The Fellowship supports one to two years of graduate study in any field and in any advanced degree-granting program in the United States. The Fellowship involves taking part in two Fall Conferences in New York City (all expenses paid) and meeting with the Fellowship director on your campus.

Lifelong Community

New Fellows join a strong community of current and past Fellows who all share the New American experience. There is an alumni association, The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows Association (PDSFA), which actively engages current and past Fellows in events held across the country. The competition is merit-based.

A diverse group of four female Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows posing for the camera at the 20th reunion for the Fellowship in 2018.

Importance of the Fellowship

Once a Fellow is welcomed into the fold, they become part of a life-long community connected by the shared experience of being an immigrant or the child of immigrants in pursuit of higher education and growth in their fields.

Our Fellows pursue degrees across a range of fields and at a range of schools, and we’re interested in a diverse array of applicants and perspectives.

Advancing diversity in our country and in our classrooms is a benefit to everyone. Whether you were born in the U.S. or abroad, each person brings a valuable perspective to the conversation and the Fellowship works to ensure that each of our Fellows has a seat at the table.

Diversity of perspectives is tantamount to ensuring a better future across different disciplines and our society writ large.


103

countries of heritage represented by the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows, representing the incredible diversity and global perspectives within our community

History of the Fellowship

1998

Fellowship Founded

Paul and Daisy Soros, Hungarian immigrants and American philanthropists, established their Fellowship program for New Americans—immigrants and children of immigrants—in December of 1997 with a charitable trust of fifty million dollars.

Warren Ilchman was engaged as director on January 7, 1998, and on February 2 of that same year the new Board of Directors of the proposed Paul and Daisy Soros program met for the first time, determined its mission and conditions for eligibility, and debated various names, settling on “Fellowships for New Americans.” The agreed upon mission statement read, “The purpose of The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is to provide opportunities for continuing generations of able and accomplished New Americans to achieve leadership in their chosen fields.” They also authorized Carmel Geraghty and Warren Ilchman to have an exploratory competition by April 1, 1998 for ten possible Fellows to begin the following September.  

In addition to building a pool of applicants, the PD Soros team established with Stan Heginbotham, a selection process, appointed sixteen panelists, and held four days of interviews. Choosing from over 600 applicants and interviewing 36, the staff and panelists were so convinced of the candidates’ high quality that they requested and were authorized by the Board of Directors to appoint 20, rather than 10, initial Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows on May 5, 1998.  

The Fellowships program in many ways, reflect Paul and Daisy’s story. Their experience showed them that their unique perspective and that of other immigrants is an asset; through the pursuit of higher education, immigrants and children of immigrants have the potential to impact tremendous change and innovation across society, culture and academia.


2001

Online Applications Accepted & Adjustments Made

By 2001, the Board of Directors decided to update the number of Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows to 30 Fellow each year; candidates could already be in their graduate studies, although not beyond their second year; individuals could reapply; the age-limit was raised from 28 to 30 at the upper end and eliminated at the lower end; after an initial policy of a three-year maximum tenure, the number of years was reduced to two; aslyees were deemed eligible; interviews became bi-coastal, and increasingly the selection panelists were graduated Fellows. 

In 2001, the Fellowship also introduced an online application, in addition to mailed applications, just before the application deadline in 2001. In 2002, more than 150 applicants applied online.


2008

10 Year Anniversary

Celebrating a decade of excellence, the Fellowship marked its 10th anniversary with a special retreat with Warren Ilchman, the Soros family, and Stanley Heginbotham. On September 28-30, the 10th anniversary of the program was celebrated at a conference center, inauspiciously called Trail’s End in eastern Pennsylvania. In all, 190 people–Fellows, spouses, and children–made their way there and spent the three days in discussions, meals, games, and around bonfires. Paul and Daisy joined the group for its keynote dinner and musical program, as well as interpersonal discussions. Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Ron Huberman addressed the group as the official speaker.


2008

PDSFA Created

Following from the Tenth Anniversary Conference, The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows Association (PDSFA) was established, with 2004 Fellow Nusrat Choudhury serving as the founding director, fostering a strong alumni network. One special part of the Fellowship is that the chair of the PDSFA sits on the Board of Directors of The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans, representing the commitment of the Fellowship to the alumni.

The PDSFA’s original structure included officers and fifteen regional coordinators. In 2009, the PDSFA introduced a mentoring program so that older Fellows could support new Fellows in their first years as Fellows and graduate students.


2010

Increased Funds

Paul and Daisy Soros generously contributed an additional $25 million to the charitable trust, ensuring continued support for New American Fellows.


2010

Leadership Transition

The Board of Directors announced that Warren Ilchman had asked to retire as of June 1, 2011 and that they had reluctantly accepted his decision. Beginning October 15, 2010, Stanley J. Heginbotham became the co-director of the Fellowship program and then became the full director upon Warren’s retirement on June 1, 2011.


2013

Paul Soros Passes Away

The Fellowship mourned the loss of Co-Founder Paul Soros, whose legacy continues to inspire and support the dreams of New Americans.


2013

Craig Harwood Named Director

Craig Harwood was named director, bringing new leadership and a commitment to the Fellowship’s mission.


2014

Expanded Eligibility

Thanks to the leadership of alumni, The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans broadened the eligibility requirements to include DACA recipients. In 2019, the requirements further broadened their definition of “New American” to be inclusive of all immigrants, regardless of their immigration status, who have graduated from both high school and college in the US. In addition, individuals who had received refugee and asylum status would no longer have to wait to receive their green cards to apply.


2018

20-Year Anniversary

Nearly half of the Fellowship’s alumni gathered in Colorado Springs with the Board of Directors and the Soros family for a memorable weekend that was organized throughout the year by dozens of Fellows in partnership with the Fellowship’s staff. The retreat featured outings to Colorado’s beautiful hikes, panels by Fellows, and important conversations for the alumni. The event centered around the themes of immigration, leadership, innovation and excellence. The Saturday evening cocktail reception was dedicated to the Directors Emeritus of the organization, Warren Ilchman and Stanley Heginbotham. The dinner tribute program was hosted by Alex Iftimie (2009 Fellow) and Dena Simmons (2010 Fellow) and featured musical performances by David Adewumi (2017 Fellow), Paul Kwak (2006 Fellow), and Elizabeth Joy Roe (2005 Fellow).


2023

25th Year Anniversary & The Oped Project

The 25th anniversary was marked by the creation of the PD Soros and OpEd Project Public Voices Fellowship, highlighting a continued commitment to empowering New American voices.

Discovering Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows

Fellows On the Map

This map shows where many of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows and their families are from around the world (the green icons), as well as where they immigrated to in the United States (the blue icons).

Note that the map only includes a portion of The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows; it is not a complete representation of the Fellows.

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