Skip to content

NASH Partnership with Kentucky Drives Impressive Results for Innovative Scholarship Pilot Program

December 22, 2023

Refugee Resettlement Initiative logo

In a landmark collaboration, the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) and the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA) recently released the outcomes of the Kentucky Innovative Scholarship Pilot Program (KISPP) in their annual report for the 2022-23 academic year. This pioneering initiative, co-implemented by the National Association of Higher Education Systems’ (NASH) Refugee Resettlement Initiative (RRI), has seen measurable change for displaced students, fostering global connections and inclusive communities.


Empowering Displaced Students

The KISPP has provided last-dollar financial assistance and vital support services to 339 displaced students from 34 countries, enabling them to pursue higher education in diverse, career-focused programs at both two- and four-year institutions. The Kentucky Humanitarian Assistance Scholarship supports individuals whose education was disrupted by conflicts and crises in their home countries, showcasing the program’s global impact.


Building Collaborative Communities

A portion of the program’s funding has been dedicated to establishing a state-level Community of Practice (CoP) for representatives from Kentucky postsecondary institutions. This CoP, facilitated by NASH’s RRI, plays a pivotal role in the successful implementation of the scholarship. Monthly CoP convenings have covered a spectrum of topics including recruitment, support services for displaced persons, understanding immigration policies, financial aid, and scholarship operations. Notably, these workshops are set to continue throughout the 2023-24 academic year.

“The Kentucky Humanitarian Assistance Scholarship is a prime example of how good ideas can be funded and lifted quickly,” says Dr. Colleen Thouez, Founder and Director, NASH Refugee Resettlement Initiative. “We see these significant results less than one year from design to implementation in addition to the fact that the Commonwealth of Kentucky is now also inspiring other states to think innovatively about higher education’s role in refugee resettlement and support.” 


Crafting a Comprehensive Toolkit

With support from the RRI, CoP leaders have distilled insights and knowledge into a comprehensive toolkit. This resource serves as a repository of advice from experts and practitioners working with displaced populations, incorporating the voices of CoP members and scholarship recipients for a well-rounded perspective on supporting displaced students.


Program Origins

The genesis of this groundbreaking pilot program dates back to 2022 when the Kentucky General Assembly allocated $10 million in funding through the state budget bill, House Bill 1. The legislature directed CPE and KHEAA to establish the KISPP to enhance college access and promote success for displaced students and those participating in international exchange programs.

Taking charge of the implementation, CPE and KHEAA forged partnerships with key organizations such as NASH, the Institute of International Education (IIE), the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, and the Community Sponsorship Hub (CSH). Together, they launched the previously mentioned Community of Practice (CoP) in the fall of 2022.


NASH’s Role in Supporting Refugees and Displaced Students 

The NASH RRI’s involvement in this program seamlessly aligns with its origin and purpose, established amidst the influx of 100,000 Afghans and 100,000 Ukrainians in the United States in 2021. Recognizing the unique opportunity for institutions of higher education (IHEs) to collaborate and cultivate inclusive communities, NASH  has been instrumental in increasing the number of welcoming systems and campuses. Working with key partners, the initiative has focused on building an efficient ecosystem among campuses while concurrently securing state and federal support for IHEs, enabling institutions to respond promptly and evolve into established resettlement partners.

To delve deeper into the impact of the Kentucky Innovative Scholarship Pilot Program and access the full report, visit The collaborative efforts of CPE, KHEAA, NASH, and other key partners underscore the power of collective action in creating meaningful opportunities for displaced students and advancing global education initiatives.