The Mitchell Scholarship

US-Ireland Alliance to Pause George J. Mitchell Scholarship Program 

Lack of major funding places future of prestigious post-graduate program on island of Ireland in question

13 March 2024, Arlington, VA: The US-Ireland Alliance today announced its decision to pause the selection of future classes of George J. Mitchell Scholars as it considers the long-term sustainability of the prestigious post-graduate program that sends future American leaders to the island of Ireland. 

The decision by the Alliance means a Mitchell Scholarship class of 2026 will not be selected.  The class of 2025 has already been selected and will proceed as planned with study in Ireland and Northern Ireland this fall. The other activities of the Alliance, including the annual Oscar Wilde Awards, will continue as usual. 

According to Alliance Founder and President Trina Y. Vargo, the Mitchell Scholarship Program is in no immediate financial difficulty. Yet operating on a comparatively small budget and on an annual basis is very different from having the stable, permanent funding necessary that comes with an endowment, Vargo said.  

The Alliance estimates the minimum endowment needed to sustain the Mitchell Scholarship for the long-term is $40 million. The Irish government has committed to match any funds that are raised for this purpose up to €20 million euros.

“It is time to pause to determine if there is sufficient interest in retaining the most prestigious scholarship that uniquely sends young Americans to the island of Ireland,” said Vargo. 

Vargo created the US-Ireland Alliance and the Mitchell Scholarship 25 years ago, following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, which was shepherded by then U.S Senator George J. Mitchell and ended 30 years of violent conflict in Northern Ireland. 

The Mitchell quickly rose to a status equal to that of the Rhodes and other post-graduate awards which operate with multi-million-dollar endowments established by their founders. Yet despite achieving a high level of prestige and graduating nearly three hundred national and global leaders over the past quarter century, no major funders have emerged for the Mitchell.

“The support we’ve enjoyed for the last 25 years is very much appreciated and necessary, but unfortunately, it’s not sufficient,” said Vargo. “Hence the need for a bridge to the future, which an endowment will provide.”


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(written & as video)