Since 2006, 130 multi-year scholarships in the name of the orangutan have been awarded to Indonesian students in the fields of biology, forestry and veterinary science. Seventy students have graduated and have become advocates of orangutan conservation within Indonesia's diverse workforce. The latest scholarship ceremonies were held in Ketapang, West Kalimantan on May 23 and in Banda Aceh, Aceh province on May 30, 2017.

3 June 2017 - Santa Monica, CA.  “The college graduates we support through this competitive scholarship program become orangutan advocates in the name of the great red ape,” stated Dr. Gary Shapiro, about the Orangutan Caring Scholarship (OCS) program.  Founded in 2006, the OCS program was established as a collaboration between the Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF) and two Indonesian implementing organizations: first, Yayasan Orangutan Sumatra Lestari/Orangutan Information Center (OIC) on Sumatra and in 2012 Yayasan Palung (YP) in West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). “It is specifically for students from provinces where wild orangutans still roam the forests,” said Shapiro. Various orangutan and other nonprofit organizations, foundations and individuals, have been providing the funding to grow this program over the past 12 years.

The 2017 Orangutan Caring Scholarships were given out on May 23 in Ketapang, West Kalimantan and on May 30 in Banda Aceh, Sumatra.  Eighteen scholarships in total were provided for top scoring students from West Kalimantan (6), North Sumatra (6) and Aceh (6) to attend universities in Pontianak, West Kalimantan; Medan, North Sumatra; and Banda Aceh, Aceh, respectively. Academic juries evaluated the grades and presentations of applicants as part of the selection process. Both ceremonies were attended by local government and university officials, nongovernment representatives, students and their family, and local press.

The Ketapang ceremony was an evening affair hosted by Yayasan Palung at a local restaurant. Following dinner and introductions by the emcee, Ms. Terri Breeden, Program Director at Yayasan Palung gave opening remarks followed by comments provided by Mrs. Mariamah Achmad (Mayi), Environmental Education manager from Yayasan Palung. Dr. Gary Shapiro, President of OURF and co-creator of the OCS program gave an illustrated presentation about the program, how it worked and the achievements attained thus far. Six  students from West Kalimantan (Ratiah from SMA Negeri 3 Simpang Hilir, Hanna Adelia Runtu from SMA Negeri 3 Ketapang, Ilham Pratama from SMA Negeri 2 Ketapang, Mita Anggraini from MAN Ketapang, Siti Nurbaiti from SMA Negeri 1 Sungai Laur and Rafikah from SMA Negeri 3 Simpang Hilir) signed the scholarship contracts with the implementing organization representatives. Part of the conditions for all scholarship recipients to receive annual funding is to provide annual reports and to show proof of attendance in good standing each year.  Later, Mr. Hendri Gunawan, a graduate and former  Bornean OCS recipient gave a short presentation directed at the new recipients on the importance of prioritizing school work, maintaining high motivation and working hard to achieve the degree. Indeed, students are required to maintain an overall academic score of at least 2.75 to keep receiving the scholarship.

A week later a hotel in Banda Aceh, OIC hosted the Sumatran OCS during the holy month of Ramadan.  Twelve students (six from North Sumatra and six from Banda Aceh) were in attendance to receive their award. The honorees were: from North Sumatra: Dameria Agustina Pohan, Elmida Hasibuan, Indah Apria Situngkir , Fran Jaya, and M Ariefatullah Syarifuddin, Biology; and Aswin Sahari, Forestry;   from Aceh: Agustina and Cut Raudhatul Jannah, Veterinary Science; Taufiq Nurcholisudin and Ninda Rizki, Biology; Taupan Juwana and Muhamad Rizal, Forestry. The ceremony took place before sundown so as to conclude prior to “breaking the Ramadan fast.”   An opening prayer was said by one of the recipients followed by opening remarks from OIC Founder and Director, Panut Hadisiswoyo. Also providing comments were Mr. Misran, Head of Gunung Leuser National Park, Department of Forestry and Mr. Sapto, Head of the Natural Resources Department of Forestry. OURF President Dr. Gary Shapiro gave an illustrated presentation about the overall scholarship program and reiterated what Mr. Sapto said, “The scholarships are not free.” Students are expected to provide annual reports, keep good grades, and volunteer for the implementing organizations as part of their agreeing to accept the award. This includes going to schools, outreach events, and other activities. In this way, the students understand the conservation issues from the perspective of the nonprofit organization. Later, Mr. Binur, the OCS coordinator for OIC, presented an overview of the OCS from the Sumatra perspective and showed impressive profiles of students who have graduated.

To date, the Orangutan Caring Scholarship program has provided 130 students with opportunities to attend the University of Medan, University of North Sumatra, University of Syiah Kuala, STIK Pante Kulu, National Islam University Ar-Raniry, and University of Tanjungpura in the fields of biology, forestry, and veterinary science. Of these students, 70 have graduated and have gone on to graduate school or jobs in conservation, education, veterinary medicine, and business in the private and public sector. All have become advocates for orangutans— having done volunteer work for the various implementing NGOs and understanding that their academic future was, in a large part, aided by a scholarship given to them in the name of the endangered orangutan.

The future of the OCS. Dr. Shapiro commented in both ceremonies that the future of the scholarship program is contingent on future funding. Unlike building projects where donors can see the results of their contribution, scholarships provide no physical structure where a donor’s name on a plaque can be seen.  It is, thus, more challenging to raise funds to keep this program viable for the years ahead. The continued success of the Orangutan Caring Scholarship depends on contributions from donors from all walks of life.  Each four-year scholarship costs approximately US $1500, which includes tuition, research write-up and administrative costs. Individuals can help fund a single or partial scholarship. Organizations, including nonprofits, family foundations, companies, religious institutions and schools, can also participate in this valuable program. Sponsoring organizations have included: The Orangutan Project, Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, Animal Health Foundation, and Orangutan Outreach. Please contact Orang Utan Republik Foundation at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if interested in supporting the OCS fund or for further information.

About Orang Utan Republik Foundation. The mission of the Orang Utan Republik Foundation (OURF) is to save wild orangutans from extinction by supporting, coordinating and facilitating conservation education, outreach programs, and other innovative collaborative projects in the species’ host country of Indonesia. OURF seeks to transform the attitudes, values and beliefs of local Indonesians who impact wild orangutan populations in culturally appropriate ways such that they become the caretakers of the species and their rain forest habitat. OURF networks with other organizations, leveraging limited resources to make the largest impact possible. Some of the groups include, The Orangutan Project, the Orangutan Caring Foundation of North Sumatra, Gunung Palung Orangutan Conservation Program, Sumatran Orangutan Society, Yayasan Palung, Orangutan Information Center, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program,  Center for Orangutan Protection, California Orangutan Alliance, and Orangutan Conservancy. In 2016, OURF became the US chapter of The Orangutan Project to serve donors in the USA that support more direct conservation related activities. OURF and its Indonesian affiliate, the Orangutan Caring Foundation of Indonesia (YPOI) works with local people in educating them through the Mobile Education & Conservation Unit (MECU) program to reduce their conflict with neighboring wildlife as well as improving their livelihood with alternative and sustainable activities. With other NGOs, OURF also provides scholarships, internships, and fellowships to promote higher education and to develop a cadre of graduates that are advocates for the species. OURF is engaged in global policy development with other groups on behalf of the orangutan. At the same time, OURF conducts outreach in the United States, works with schools to involve students, and participates in other activities to further the mission of the organization

For more information, contact OURF at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .