College Scholarships and Educational Programs

About 17 years ago RCWS launched a scholarship program for disadvantaged children in Russia. During this time, the number of participants has grown from 3 in the 2003-2004 academic year to 185 in 2020-2021. This help is much needed since only 3-4% of orphans graduating from high schools in Russia are accepted to colleges.  These children often lack the financial support, guidance, motivation, and self assurance needed to pursue the college education in order to improve their prospects in life.

Currently, RCWS is supporting 185 students in the Pskov, Yaroslavl, Moscow and the North Caucasus regions. To date, the scholarship program has been enormously successful in providing a support structure for students as they transition from living in an orphanage to attending a university on their own. For an annual cost of approximately $1,500-$2,000 per student, the Society is helping orphans successfully complete an academic degree or vocational training in order to steer them towards a promising future. The scholarship recipients receive a monthly stipend for living expenses, enabling better focus on their studies. More importantly, however, they are closely guided by their mentors who are always there to listen and provide the necessary support to help the children flourish and feel cared for. RCWS requires academic transcripts from each scholarship recipient, as well as reports on the use of the stipend to ensure accountability. Over 120 of our scholarship recipients have thus far completed their schooling and found employment. 

 

We would like to share several stories. Among our new scholarship recipients are:

Eduard T., a 19-year-old orphan raised in the Pechora Orphanage in the Pskov region. Currently, Eduard attends the Pechora College of Professional Technologies and Service to receive a Diploma in Vehicle Mechanics. He is planning to continue his education in the field of aviation and engineering at Moscow’s Bauman University or Moscow Aviation University. RCWS’s monthly scholarship is a big help for Eduard.

Aleksandra Y., 20 years old, is an orphan and has no relatives. She is a student at the Pskov Pedagogical University with a major in Physics and Mathematics. Aleksandra’s dream is to become a math teacher.

Nestor S., 17 years old, was born and remains blind. Nestor is a pianist and a composer but his family cannot support him financially because his father is suffering from cancer and his mother is unable to work. Despite his physical limitations, Nestor, who is also fluent in English and Arabic, graduated from secondary school with a gold medal and is now a 1st year student at Moscow’s prestigious College of Brass Art, performing in a jazz band and participating in numerous international music competitions. His dream is to own a piano and to continue his music studies.

Maria V., 17 years old, became a social orphan after her parents lost their parental rights. At the age of 8 Maria was brought to the Solba Orphanage in the Yaroslavl region, where she blossomed and developed her artistic talents. At Solba Maria learned different drawing techniques, which sharpened her artistic skills and helped to boost her creativity. Last summer, she passed the exams and was accepted to the College of Architecture in Krasnodar to study graphic design. RCWS’s scholarship has allowed her to purchase necessary books, equipment & art supplies so she can pursue her dream.

RCWS has been expanding the scholarship program, adding new partners and increasing the number of participating students. 

Currently, RCWS provides scholarships to 25 young musicians affiliated with the Spivakov Foundation, established by renowned concert violinist Vladimir Spivakov, to help disadvantaged children in Russia develop their musical and artistic talent.

RCWS has made it a tradition to gather our scholarship recipients for a reunion every summer. It’s not only an opportunity to meet old and make new friends, but to share their experiences in overcoming challenges at school and in their personal lives, learning important skills such as monthly budget planning, and so on.

On October 22, 2020, our partners at the Pskov Children’s Fund hosted a meeting for the RCWS new scholarship recipients in Pskov. This year’s student’s reunion meeting took place at the local café “Chocolate”. Daria Yakovleva, Advisor to Governor of Russia’s Pskov region spoke about the importance of education, shared her career advice, and described the benefits of volunteer work. During the meeting the students introduced themselves, learned about the RCWS and scholarship project, received the RCWS certificates and their stipends, warmly thanking the Society and our donors. In 2020-2021 academic year 48 scholarship recipients from Pskov will receive a monthly stipend from RCWS.

In summer 2019 our Pskov students reunion took place on July 11th in Pleskov, a retreat overlooking the Pskov Lake. In 2018, the RCWS scholarship recipients reunion was covered by a local newspaper

 

 

Last year, Lada Yushkevich, Head of the RCWS Moscow office, participated in the reunion meeting and met with students. In addition to the diploma ceremony, students had a chance to engage in sport activities: swimming, playing beach volleyball, biking. After lunch, the participants shared their college experiences and thanked sponsors – RCWS supporters.  Thanks to the RCWS and our donors support,  over the years 107 orphanage graduates in Pskov region received the monthly scholarship. As of today, 68 scholarship recipients from Pskov region completed their studies, received diplomas and found employment. 

Olga Vasilieva, a student at the St. Petersburg Medical University, Pediatric Department, and a RCWS scholarship recipient expressed her gratitude: “I would like to thank everyone for the wonderful reunion.  It was truly very heartwarming. For me it was like a home gathering with very close family and friends. Thank you RCWS for the on-going support and for the positive emotions that we received at the student’s reunion meeting!”

 

 

Educational Center “Big Change” (Bolshaya Peremena), Moscow

The “Big Change” Center is a non-profit organization founded by a group of teachers who were inspired by the idea of helping children brought up in orphanages to smoothly transition into adulthood and integrate into society. Big Change currently works with over 70 students who are between the ages of 12 and 36, have different educational levels, different goals, and varying life circumstances. Teachers prepare a tailor-made education for each student, including communication skills training, speech therapy for youngsters with learning disabilities, and tutoring (Math, Literature, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science, History, Biology, Geography). During the last 17 years the Center’s educational programs have helped 573 orphans and children with special needs to pass school exams, be admitted to trade schools or colleges, find housing, get a job and live independently. RCWS has been supporting the Center's on-going programs since 2004. In 2018, RCWS provided funds towards the educational programs, professional tutoring and extracurricular activities for 70 students totaling $16,000.

In 2019, the Government of Moscow has provided the Center with an old building built in 1900s. This building is conveniently located and easily accessible. However, it was not designed for the educational purposes and was not renovated in a long time. The anti-mold treatment is required, the wall panels are fire-hazardous and must be replaced as well as the heating pipes, doors and ceiling lamps. In 2019, RCWS provided $10,000 to replace the 100-year-old facility’s aging fire prevention and alarm systems and to train teachers and students in fire safety techniques. in 2020, RCWS awarded $10,076 towards the necessary repairs and renovation of the Center.

Due to COVID-19 outbreak, the “Big Change” experienced an increase in demand for assistance from students and young people who do not know how to cope and adapt to the new post-pandemic reality, isolation, loss of employment, etc. In spring 2020, the teachers at the Center had to run classes remotely and provide psychological support in overcoming stressful situations and adjusting to the new reality. All the consultations, lessons, and traditional meetings were transferred online. Also, several new formats of communication and support, such as student’s chat, workouts, even the culinary master classes were added at the Center’s programs. A safe educational environment and the presence (through Zoom) of an experienced teacher with whom students already established a trusting relationship helped the young people to adapt during the pandemic.

St. Nicholas School, North Caucasus region

Established in 1992 as the first Russian Orthodox School in the Northern Caucasus, the St. Nicholas School, weaves a social service program into its academic curriculum to instill in its students a sense of morality in addition to giving them a well-rounded education that inspires creativity. Over 90% of the school’s graduates are accepted to leading universities in Russia.

Currently 257 students receive a superior education that blends practical coursework such as computer training with various academic subjects. In 2018, RCWS provided funding to cover the extra-curricular educational trips, compensation for 27 teachers, building renovation and books for the library, totaling $14,092. In 2019, RCWS awarded $14,000 to provide nutritious meals for students, to acquire a new computer, chemistry lab equipment and books. Additionally, the school’s heating system was renovated.

Spivakov Foundation, Moscow

The Spivakov Foundation was established in 1994 by celebrated concert pianist Vladimir Spivakov to help disadvantaged children in Russia blossom both musically and artistically. The organization’s funds provide costly musical instruments, grants for master study abroad or at home, and opportunities to participate in concerts both as spectators and as performers. Since 2004, the annual “Moscow Welcomes Friends” festival has brought together over 1000 gifted children from across Russia. In 2019, the RCWS provided $6,000 to cover accommodation and transportation expenses for children attending the “Moscow Welcomes Friends” Festival.

 

St. Alexis School, Yaroslavl region 

Established in 1993, the St. Alexis School & Orphanage serves orphaned children, enrolling 285 students. Education is provided free of charge, and the school is consistently ranked as one of the top schools in Russia. Over 100 children have graduated from the St. Alexis School, and 80% of them are continuing their education at top universities and colleges in Russia. To increase the enrollment of students, in 2018 RCWS sponsored new furniture to equip Physics, Chemistry and Biology classrooms at the St. Alexis School (49 cabinets and desks totaling $15,085). In 2019, RCWS provided emergency assistance to cover electricity and gas expenses during the winter ($15,031) to prevent the shutdown of services due to the school debt.

RCWS has been supporting the educational programs at the St. Alexis School & Orphanage since it was founded and we are very proud of their accomplishments. The school was struggling to provide variety with its meals and lacked a bakery to produce quality bread so the RCWS funded the construction of a baking facility. In addition to supplying the school with bread, this facility will be a practical training ground for children enrolled in cooking and baking classes. Currently, RCWS is providing scholarships to 34 students who graduated from the St. Alexis School and currently attending local colleges or universities. 

 

II Donskoi Cadet Corps named after Tsar Nicholas II, Rostov-on-Don

The II Donskoi Cadet Corps named after Tsar Nicholas II was established in 1995 and it is one of the first cadets schools revived in Russia. In addition to providing a high-quality secondary education, the Cadet Corps objective is to raise intelligent, responsible, culturally educated, moral and respectful young people. A total of 286 students currently attend the cadet school, which is based in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia.

In 2018, thanks to a direct donation, RCWS was able to sponsor 21 new computers to upgrade the IT class equipment for the young cadets enrolled at the school.

Additionally, in summer 2018, thanks to a direct contribution, RCWS was able to cover a pilgrimage trip to Yekaterinburg for a group of young cadets from the II Donskoi Cadet Corps. The long-awaited trip to Yekaterinburg took place this July, commemorating 100th anniversary of the execution of Tsar Nicholas II and his family in the basement of the Ipatiev House. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from Russia and all over the world visited Yekaterinburg in 2018 to remember the last Russian royal family. Among the tragic sights the students visited was Ganina Yama near the village of Koptyaki where the imperial family was buried in mass graves in 1918.

RCWS Scholarship Program - Interviews with Students

Olga Vasilieva, social orphan, RCWS scholarship recipient and a 5-year degree student at the St Petersburg Medical University, Department of Pediatrics. Olga grew up in a remote district of the Pskov region and was raised by a foster family. Since fall 2015 Olga has been participating in the RCWS scholarship project. She describes in this video the importance of the RCWS support to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor.
 

Alexander Savunov, 23 y.o., social orphan, RCWS Scholarship recipient, 3-year student at the Pskov State University, Department of Computer Engineering and Electric Power Industry, major in Electrical Engineering.

Alexander grew up at the Krasnogorodsky Orphanage and already received an Electrician & Technician diploma from the Pskov Agrotechnical College. Alexander often volunteers at the Pskov Children’s Fund, enjoys music and sports.

 

Natasha Micheeva, 24 y.o., orphan, RCWS scholarship recipient and Master’s Degree student at the Pskov State University, major in Social Work. She joined the RCWS Scholarship program in 2018.

Natasha was born in a small village in the Pskov region. She lost her mother and was raised by a foster family. Growing up Natasha received numerous awards in local Sambo competitions, target shooting and ballroom dancing. After receiving an undergraduate degree in Chemistry Education from the Pskov State University, Natasha decided to continue her education and enrolled in the Master’s Degree program. She loves teaching and enjoys working with children. During her studies at the University, Natasha has been working part time in a kindergarten. She often volunteers at the Pskov Children’s Fund, helping children in need.

 
 
Alexei Vasiliev-Bardakov, social orphan, RCWS Scholarship recipient since 2010, recent graduate of the Petrozavodsk Conservatory, major in Woodwind & Brasswind Instruments. Alexei grew up at the Pskov Orphanage. He was always interested in arts and music. First Alexei graduated from the local Art College, than continued his studies at the Petrozavodsk Conservatory. Recently, Alexei created a music band “Keep the Brass”, which successfully performs in Petrozavodsk and makes concert tours.
 
Vera Vlasova, social orphan, RCWS Scholarship recipient, student of the Pskov State University, Department of Physics and Math.
 

Tatiana Petrova, social orphan, RCWS scholarship recipient and Master’s Degree student at the Pskov State University. She grew up at the Krasnogorodsky Orphanage. Tatiana joined the RCWS Scholarship program in 2015 and graduated with honors from the Pskov State University, major in Management. Tatiana decided to continue her education and focus on social work.