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Panda Cares Foundation Expands Scholarship Programs with UNCF for Deserving College Students

A rolled up 100 dollar bill wears a graduation cap with tassel
(Image credit: iStock/DebbiSmirnoff)

U.S. News reported that the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2019-2020 school year was over $41,000 for private colleges and over $11,000 (in-state) for public colleges. These sticker prices are high enough, but they usually don't include room and board, books and supplies, or personal expenses. 

While low-income students may be be awarded scholarships to cover the tuition and fees, the additional uncovered (but necessary) costs may be beyond their ability to pay. 

To help address this funding gap, Panda Express®, through its philanthropic arm Panda Cares Foundation and UNCF (United Negro College Fund) announce the expansion of the Panda Cares Scholars Programs to provide more than 600 low-income students with scholarship assistance to cover the unmet costs of college tuition, fees and room and board.

The multi-year expansion, like the existing Panda Cares UNCF Scholars Program, seeks to ease the financial challenges college-going students often face and will be delivered through two new scholarship programs:

  1. Panda Cares First Year Scholars Program*: provides a one-time scholarship of up to $2,500 to rising college freshmen to support their first year of post-secondary education. Scholarship deadline is July 6, 2020; and
  2. Panda Cares Scholars Program**: provides up to three years of renewable annual scholarships up to $3,500, $5,000 and $7,000 to college sophomores, juniors and seniors, respectively. The program also provides professional development opportunities designed to enhance leadership skills, instill a commitment to community service and prepare scholars for early career success. Scholarship deadline is July 1, 2020.

“At Panda Restaurant Group, giving is one of our core values. Giving educational resources to students from communities in which we operate allows us to continue to make a difference in the lives of underserved youth who need it the most,” states Dr. Peggy Cherng, co-chair and co-CEO, Panda Restaurant Group. “Since our initial collaboration with UNCF in 2018, we have empowered 400 students with practical tools and information to help navigate their first and second years of college.”

“It’s no surprise that paying for a higher education is a challenge for most college students—especially those from low-income communities or those who have experienced inequitable circumstances,” comments Dr. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF president and CEO. “Those challenges have been exacerbated in light of the world’s current condition and students’ needs are greater than ever.”

Beyond financial support, students eligible for renewable scholarships are also provided leadership training and enrichment resources, including peer-to-peer learning, internship opportunities, webinars and additional online tools.

To learn more about the Panda Cares Scholars Program, including student eligibility, visit www.PandaCaresScholarsProgram.org and UNCF.org/PandaCares.

*Students eligible who live in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.

**Students eligible who live in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin.