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The Obama Foundation Opens Applications for the 2024-2026 Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service

February 5, 2024 at 2:27 PM CST

The scholarship supports students interested in pursuing public service careers with an academic scholarship, travel-based learning, and connections to a network of leaders

CHICAGO – Today, the Obama Foundation opened applications for the 2024-2026 Voyager Scholarship, The Obama-Chesky Scholarship for Public Service. Funded by a $100 million personal contribution from Airbnb Co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky to the Obama Foundation, the Voyager Scholarship provides college students with last-dollar financial aid to help alleviate the burden of college debt, meaningful travel experiences to expand their connections to new communities, and a network of mentors and leaders to support them throughout their careers. 

As the Voyager Scholarship enters its third year, the Obama Foundation and Chesky remain committed to supporting young leaders who can bridge divides and help solve our biggest challenges together. The Voyager Scholarship supports students as they refine their values-based leadership approach, gain access to new experiences that broaden their horizons, and nurture their sense of curiosity as they deepen their commitment to pursuing public service careers. As part of the program, Voyager Scholarship recipients receive a $10,000 stipend and free housing through Airbnb to pursue a summer work-travel experience, or “Summer Voyage,” between their junior and senior years of college. Students design their own Summer Voyage to gain exposure to new communities and experience in a chosen field. Last summer, the inaugural cohort of Voyager Scholarship recipients collectively traveled to 23 U.S. states and territories and 63 countries around the world. Students engaged in internships, volunteer experiences, and research opportunities to deepen their understanding of the issues they are most passionate about. Here are some inspiring stories from our soon-to-be graduating, inaugural cohort of Voyager Scholarship recipients:

  • Gretchen North (2022-2024 Voyager) – Supporting Education in Kenya and Panama: Gretchen North, a Conservation Biology and Environmental Education student at the University of Minnesota, used her Summer Voyage to lead an environmental education workshop series in Kenya and Panama, covering topics such as rainforest conservation, grassland ecology, and permaculture. As part of the experience, Gretchen partnered with 2018-2019 Obama Scholar Juan Carlos Monterrey Gómez, the Executive Director of Panama’s Geoversity. The hands-on experiences during her months abroad have profoundly influenced her journey as a young public service leader, providing insights that will shape her future career decisions and foster a deep sense of love and community that she intends to carry throughout her life.

  • Kennedi Roberts (2022-2024 Voyager) Implementing Programming to Support Youth Mental Health: Kennedi Roberts, a student at Howard University majoring in Psychology, had a transformative Summer Voyage working with an organization in Los Angeles, California, that supports youth who have had encounters with the criminal justice system. There, she supported summer programming and helped facilitate a wilderness expedition that provided adventure therapy for young people in Boulder, Utah. This experience has fueled Kennedi's desire to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology after graduation this May.

  • Yasmin Nayrouz (2022-2024 Voyager) – Leveraging Communications for Change in Italy, the United Kingdom, Washington, DC: Yasmin Nayrouz, a Syracuse University student majoring in English and Public Relations, traveled across Italy, the United Kingdom, and Washington, D.C. for her Summer Voyage. In Italy, she interned with an immigration law firm, learning about the rights of refugees and how the E.U. has been responding to high levels of migration. In London, she worked to empower immigrants through cooking classes, and participating in U.K. government events on migration. And in Washington, D.C., Yasmin honed her communications skills to support migrant communities. This experience solidified her commitment to combating xenophobia and promoting inclusivity in her future public service career.

To learn more about the previous recipients of the Obama-Chesky Voyager Scholarship for Public Service and to see highlights from the program, visit our website. The application deadline for the Voyager Scholarship for Public Service is Wednesday, March 27, 2024, at 11:59 PM United States Central Time (UTC-6). The Obama Foundation will award the scholarship to 100 students from colleges and universities across the United States and its territories. Voyager Scholarship for Public Service recipients receive:

  • Up to $50,000 in financial aid: Students will receive up to $25,000 per year in “last dollar” financial aid for their junior and senior years of college. This financial aid should help alleviate the burden of college debt so that students can afford to pursue a career in public service.

  • Summer Voyage: Students will receive a $10,000 stipend and free housing through Airbnb to pursue a summer work-travel experience between their junior and senior year of college. The students will design their own Summer Voyage to gain exposure to new communities and experience in a chosen field.

  • 10-year travel stipend: After graduation, Airbnb will provide the students with a $2,000 Airbnb travel credit every year for 10 years, totaling $20,000. This will allow students to continue to broaden their horizons and forge new connections throughout their public service careers.

  • Monthly Virtual Sessions: Students must participate in monthly virtual programming sessions, including speaker series and mentorship roundtables, Summer Voyage design workshops, and Summer Voyage coaching sessions, to ensure they have the most meaningful experience possible.

  • Fall Summit: During their Junior Year, Voyagers may have the option to attend an in-person convening where they will engage in community building activities with fellow Voyagers, build their leadership skills, and learn from experienced leaders in public service. 

  • Network of leaders: Throughout the program, students will be invited to an ongoing speaker series, giving them access to a network of leaders. This network of leaders will expose them to new areas of service and innovations happening in their fields. After graduation, they will join the Obama Foundation’s global community, providing them with Foundation resources and programming.

For more information about the Voyager Scholarship, including the application process and answers to frequently asked questions, visit For more updates from the Obama Foundation, follow us on Facebook, (Opens in a new tab) Threads (Opens in a new tab), and Instagram (Opens in a new tab).


Contact: Gloria Nlewedim, [email protected]