College Scholarships and Educational Programs

Over fourteen 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 153 in 2017-2018.  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 153 students in the Pskov, Yaroslavl and Moscow 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 $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 80 of our scholarship recipients have thus far completed their schooling and found employment. 


Over the years, RCWS has received numerous thank you letters from our scholarship recipients. We would like to share several stories.

Irina E., 20 y.o., 2nd year student of Pskov State University, major in Finance and Economics: “My life has never been simple. Since I was 10 years old, I live without parents. My father died and mother was deprived of parental rights. It was a very difficult time for me. However, I did not lose courage and faced the challenges. I believe that a profession, work required skills and experience, would greatly increase my chances of landing a good-paying job. Since I can rely only on myself, it’s very important for me to obtain a college diploma. This summer I completed the 2nd year at the university with "excellent" grades. Without RCWS scholarship and support, I would not be able to achieve it. Thanks to the RCWS scholarship, I was able to buy all necessary books, studying materials, equipment and school supplies. In addition, I took a driving course and just passed the exam. I want to say that RCWS help is invaluable to me. Thank you for support!”

Ioann N., 20 y.o., social orphan, graduate of St. Alexis School and Orphanage in Yaroslavl region, 2nd year student at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, major in Nano-, Bio-, Information, Cognitive and Social Humanitarian Sciences and Technologies: «I completed a very difficult 1st academic year at the University. Since now I live in a dormitory in Moscow, I have to take care of myself. In the past I often faced financial challenges. Even to visit my native city of Omsk, where my mother was buried, was very expensive and out of reach for me. After joining the RCWS scholarship project, my life has changed. The monthly scholarship helped me to purchase winter and summer clothes, buy books and school supplies, pay for the dormitory and Internet. With your support I am able to focus on my studies, instead of looking for means of subsistence. »

Tikhanova S., 19 y.o., an orphan, her mother passed away, father is deprived of parental rights. Now Svetlana is the 2nd year student at the Pskov State University, with a major in "Architecture": “I always had a dream to design a unique and beautiful building, then build it, and leave a mark in the history of the city of Pskov. I am getting closer to my dream and will continue moving forward to achieve it. I study architecture and really like my major. The academic year went well, I learned so many new things! RCWS scholarship helped to repair my computer, buy books, supplies and other essentials. Thank you for helping me to realize my dream!”

Alexander S., 20 y.o., social orphan, graduate of the Krasnogorodsky Orphanage in the Pskov region. Alexander’s father passed away, his mother lost parental rights. Now Alexander is a 3rd year student at the Pskov Agrotechnical College, major in Agriculture Automation & Electrification and RCWS scholarship recipient: “My mother brought me to the Krasnogorodsky Orphanage “AgroSchool” when I was in the first grade. All the teachers and caretakers at the orphanage became my new family. My younger brothers and cousins still continue their studies at this orphanage. I have no resentment towards my mother, she could not cope with the problems and left us. Probably she thought that the orphanage would be a better place for us. Time flies quickly. I have decided many years ago that I want to become an electrician and study at the Pskov Agrotechnical College. I want to get an electrician diploma and find a job in this field. My knowledge and professional skills could be useful not only at work, but also in everyday life, I can set up the electrical wiring in my house, help the neighbors and friends. With such profession I can always earn a living. Among my hobbies is music and sport. I lead a healthy lifestyle, making progress in cross-country skiing, cycling, and like to play football. This passed academic year included many ups and downs, but I was able to overcome all the challenges thanks to the RCWS support. I completed last semester with “good” grades and won "The best electrician of 2017" title in the Pskov region competition. Thanks to RCWS scholarship, I was able to purchase the tools and equipment for my practical training classes. I am immensely grateful for your help!”

Olga V., 20 y.o., an orphan, never saw her father and her mother was deprived of parental rights due to alcoholism. Now Olga is the 2nd year student of St. Petersburg Medical University, major in pediatrics: “You are my saviors and my guardian angels. I was along, in a difficult situation. Now I am a medical university student. In the future, I want to treat and help children.  They are so small and defenseless! I also want to help people, as you do. After all, if we do good deeds, it would return to us. My studies and getting a profession is my priority. In order to become a good physician, you need to study and work a lot! I am very grateful to RCWS for everything you do for me. Not many people are able to help children who need help.“

RCWS has been expanding the scholarship program, adding new partners and increasing the number of participating students. Currently, RCWS provides scholarships to 15 young musicians affiliated with the Spivakov Foundation. 

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. This year’s Pskov students reunion took place on July 12th in Pleskov, a retreat overlooking the Pskov Lake, and was covered by a local newspaper


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. Currently 40 RCWS scholarship recipients are attending local colleges and universities in Pskov region. As of today, 46 students from Pskov region completed their studies, received diplomas and found employment.

St. Nicholas School, North Caucasus region

Established in 1992 and the first Russian Orthodox School in the North Caucasus, the St. Nicholas School, weaves a social service program into its academic curriculum so as to instill in its students a sense of morality in addition to giving them a well-rounded education that inspires creativity. The St. Nicolas School is the only such institution in the Northern Caucasus and is currently helping 260 students receive a superior education that blends practical coursework such as computer training with various academic subjects. The St. Nicholas School likes to occasionally reward its students with trips beyond the classroom walls so as to enrich their academic experience and offer them a chance to broaden their horizons. In 2016, the RCWS funded a trip to the annual Yelka celebration for 25 students and provided support for educational programs. 

St. Alexis School, Yaroslavl region 

In 2017, RCWS renewed support for the St. Alexis School & Orphanage by awarding $15,874 to equip 9 classrooms with furniture. The St. Alexis School & Orphanage was established in 2001 to assist orphaned children in Yaroslavl region. Currently, 280 students are enrolled at the School. In 2014, the St. Alexis School was included in the rating of 200 best schools in Russia located in rural area. Over 100 children have graduated from the St. Alexis School, many of them currently enrolled at the top universities and colleges in Russia. 
The number of students is continue to increase and the School has to equip additional 9 classrooms with furniture: 12 desks, 54 cabinets and 35 trapezoid tables, sponsored by the RCWS.
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 41 students who graduated from the St. Alexis School and currently attending local colleges or universities. 

RCWS Scholarship Program - Interviews with Students