Dunn Launching Emergency Ukraine Student Scholarship Fund To Bring, Keep Students Here

Dunn Philanthropy is seeking donations to support students displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine 

Ukrainian journalist Olia Freimut had doubts about sending her daughter, Zlata, to the United States to board at Dunn School this past fall. 

Today, now weeks into a brutal war sparked by neighboring Russia’s invasion of her home, Freimut is so thankful to have made the decision. 

“I wasn’t sure about my daughter going so far away,” Freimut said. “When she was only 14, she applied to Dunn School. I wanted her to be in Ukraine with me, but I think we are blessed by God because, right now, she’s not struggling. She has food, she has friends, she has community, teachers, the best professionals around her, and for me, right now, I’m so happy she is in a safe place.”

For many Ukrainians, the above is nowhere near true. Many of those who remain in the country, especially in cities under siege, have been sheltering in underground bunkers with dwindling food, water and other supplies, Freimut said. Even for the more than 2 million estimated people who have left Ukraine, like Freimut, many have given up all but just the clothes they were able to carry.  

No money, no family photos, no documents — pets and family members left behind.   

“Every single morning I look up, and I look at the news, then I start calling everybody I love,” Freimut said. “My father, it’s my mother, it’s my brother … my friends. My best friend, she’s still in Kyiv. … Every time, I’m looking at the phone saying ‘please answer, please answer,’ and if they’re not answering, I’m just losing my mind, because they are in shelters underground for a lot of days with small kids and no food.”

While there is no accounting for a humanitarian crisis on this scale, Dunn School is dedicated to making an impact on as many individuals as possible by establishing the Emergency Ukrainian Student Scholarship. The charitable effort supports current students from Ukraine and aims to bring additional displaced Ukrainian students to the United States to attend school at Dunn. 

“It wasn’t a question whether we would do everything we could to support Zlata and continue her education here at home,” said Kalyan Balaven, the Head of School at Dunn. “The question was what were we prepared to do to help Ukrainian students whose learning had come to a halt during this tragic time. The answer is in the strength of our community rallying together to help as many students as possible continue their education.”

The initial goal of the scholarship fund is to raise $240,000. That would cover three full international scholarships specifically for students from Ukraine to board at Dunn for a full academic year — including tuition, room and boarding, incidentals such as school supplies, living expenses, and homestay support during school breaks. 

Anyone can donate to the effort quickly and easily online by visiting dunnschool.org/ukraine. To give offline, please contact Dunn’s office of philanthropy by calling (805) 686-0627. 

One hundred percent of the dollars given will go directly toward educating Ukrainian students displaced by the war.

“For us, America is like paradise,” Freimut said. “People think that if you're in America, you’re safe, you are in a proper society, you won't be bombed tomorrow. For kids who are suffering so much during this awful horrible time, it will be a nice prize to go and feel very important and share their minds and experience with local societies.”  

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