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Charity Nets Support for Poor College Students

A new charity programme has been launched to support poor college freshmen.

It has been set up by the China Youth Development Foundation, which has introduced a transparent online platform to reassure donors that funds are used correctly.

The programme Project Hope College Dream has a dedicated website where donors can choose from a list of poor but intelligent high school graduates and support them in their first year of college.

By a few clicks at www.shangdaxuela.cn, which means "going to college" in Chinese, supporters can check various details, such as where their money has gone and find out when the student has received the money.

Potential donors can also visit the foundation's headquarters in Beijing for more information, said Wang Min, deputy secretary-general of the organization, at a press conference yesterday.

To support a poor student through the website, donors need to pay 4,400 yuan (US$550) to the bank account of the foundation.

As soon as the foundation receives the money, it will transfer 4,000 yuan (US$500) to the assisted student's bank account within six days. The remaining figure will be used by the foundation to support its daily operation and project management costs.

Donations less than the total amount will also be accepted and accumulated with other smaller sums to match one student.

"We hope to help 20,000 poor but excellent students this year to take the first step into college, because many had given up their college dream as they had been unable to gather enough money to pay the first year's tuition fees," said Wang.

Tuition fees are at least 6,000 yuan (US$750) annually. But the average yearly income of a farmer is only 3,255 yuan (US$407), according to official statistics. A survey showed nearly 60 per cent of 322 poor students in 11 provinces believed that their families could not gather enough money to pay for their first year of study.

Within a week of the launch of the new programme, the foundation has already received 16.59 million yuan (US$2.07 million) from individuals and enterprises, which can help 3,771 college freshmen.

(China Daily July 12, 2006)

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