About Us


Our Mission

New American Scholars provides refugee students in New Hampshire the resources to successfully transition into their school communities through academic assistance, social support and peer-mentorship. We are dedicated to closing the achievement gap amongst refugee students and their American-born peers by providing access to educational resources that enable refugee students to take agency of their learning and their lives.


Our Founder

“Refugees are part of the fabric of our state. They work in our businesses and support our organizations. Through the sharing of their talents, skills, cultures and customs, they help make our state strong and vibrant”

Riyah S. Patel

Founder & President, Student

Riyah Patel couldn’t help but feel isolated as the Covid-19 pandemic dramatically altered her experience as a 9th grader at Phillips Exeter Academy, her dream school. Classroom learning, typically a place of face-to-face interactions with peers and instructors, was limited to virtual sessions that hardly matched the visions Riyah had of her classroom experience.

 

“The restrictions made it impossible,” she said. “It was hard to make friends. It was hard to participate in class or ask for help from teachers. I didn’t know any of my classmates. It was difficult advocating for myself. It was hard to thrive in a virtual environment.”

 

Expressing her frustration to her mother, Riyah learned that these Covid-influenced experiences mirrored much of her mother’s experience as an immigrant to America: Feelings of isolation, hard to topple language and cultural barriers, and advocating for herself in a new educational system.

 

“It got me thinking,” Riyah said. “‘How are refugee kids faring?’ They’re facing the same barriers, plus that layer of online learning. They’ve already been left behind and Covid is widening the gap.”

 

Riyah spent the next summer tutoring multiple groups of refugee students in her community. The demand she encountered for kids looking for educational and social support was overwhelming and inspired her to, at the age of 15, begin New American Scholars.

 

New American Scholars began in 2021 as a unique opportunity in [Concord], and has expanded its reach to other refugee communities throughout the Granite State. The program aims to improve academic skills and confidence for New Hampshire’s refugee youth. It highlights, in Riyah’s words, “not only the importance of bridging the gap in education, but giving them social support and ties to [New Hampshire]. They need to feel anchored to the community here.”

Riyah in her own words


Our Community

The state of New Hampshire is experiencing the immigration of families from all over the world, including Congo, Sudan, Rwanda, Somalia, Bhutan, Nepal and Afghanistan. The primary resettlement communities in New Hampshire are Concord, Manchester, Nashua and the Seacoast.

 

We provide in-person tutoring sessions (larger group, small group or individual) year round in Reading, Writing, Mathematics and English as a Second Language (ESL). We also pair tutors with individual students in our “Study-Buddy” program which offers academic support on a virtual platform throughout the school year.