New Endowed Scholarship Fund Creates Paths to Opportunity

Gift from Ali and Lama Kolaghassi supports graduates of King’s Academy in Jordan.

Ali Kolaghassi and Steven Knapp
GW alumnus Ali Kolaghassi, left, at a signing ceremony with President Steven Knapp. Mr. Kolaghassi and his wife, Lama, established a scholarship fund for students from King's Academy in Madaba, Jordan. (Logan Werlinger/GW Today)
January 27, 2017

The belief that education can be a positive force for change and social mobility is what motivated GW alumnus Ali Kolaghassi and his wife, Lama, to make a philanthropic commitment to the George Washington University to establish the Ali and Lama Kolaghassi Scholarship Fund.

This endowed fund will provide a full undergraduate scholarship—the Kolaghassi Scholarship—for a graduate of King’s Academy, an independent, co-educational boarding and day school for students in grades seven through 12 in Madaba, Jordan.

Founded in 2007, the academy is inspired by King Abdullah II of Jordan’s vision to produce “a new generation of enlightened and creative minds” and is based on his experience as a student at Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts. About 40 percent of the students at King’s Academy attend on scholarship.

“Students receive an outstanding education at King’s Academy, but upon graduation, their options for further education are limited,” Mr. Kolaghassi said. “This scholarship creates opportunities for talented students with financial need to continue on their educational paths so they are able to positively change their lives, their families’ lives and, ultimately, entire communities.”

The new scholarship will cover the cost for one student at a time to attend GW for up to four years—including tuition, room and board and other associated expenses. The first recipient could enroll as early as fall 2018.

“We are grateful to Ali and Lama Kolaghassi for their generosity and their exemplary support of the George Washington University,” President Steven Knapp said. “The Kolaghassi Scholarship will further enhance our ability to recruit and retain students who will enrich the global diversity of our student body and go on to become leaders in their communities.”

Mr. Kolaghassi, who grew up in Kuwait, graduated from GW with a degree in business. He began his career in Saudi Arabia and has since held a number of leadership and board positions across the globe. Mr. Kolaghassi is recognized as one of the “top 100 most influential Arab leaders” by Arabian Business Magazine. He is the founder, president and chairman of Kolaghassi Capital Ltd., a private equity and asset management firm headquartered in Dubai and with offices in Amman, Jordan; London; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; and Washington, D.C.

An affinity for D.C., borne from Mr. Kolaghassi’s days as a GW student influenced his decision to locate the U.S. office of his business in D.C., which he described as “the nation’s capital with small-town charm,” diverse communities and multinational organizations.

In addition to travelling to the city for business, the Kolaghassis now have another reason to visit: their daughter is a sophomore at GW.

“I encourage all alumni—regardless of their capacity and the amount they are able to contribute—to support education,” Mr. Kolaghassi said. “So many of the world’s current challenges are directly linked to the absence of education and, consequently, a lack of opportunities. If everyone contributed even a small amount, we could make a real tangible difference in addressing and solving some of these critical problems.”

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