The SOHO China Foundation was founded in 2005. The impetus for the Foundation grew out of early acts of personal philanthropy from SOHO China’s leadership, Zhang Xin and Pan Shiyi. Following the creation of the Foundation, Ms. Zhang and Mr. Pan determined that their giving would be oriented around education projects, in particular those that work to support Chinese students with financial need. They deeply believe in the power of education to transform lives and to be a catalyst for social mobility, having seen their own lives changed dramatically by educational opportunities.

In 2008, the SOHO China Foundation launched its first two major education initiatives in China, the Children’s Virtues Project and the Bathroom Construction Campaign. These two four-year long projects were implemented in Mr. Pan’s hometown, a rural village outside of Tianshui in Gansu Province. For the Children’s Virtues Project, teachers from Tianshui came to Beijing each summer for training in a special curriculum that focused on character development, with an emphasis on lesson plans that fostered hands-on, project-oriented learning. Through the Children’s Virtues Project, 3,000 teachers received training, who collectively taught over 100,000 children. For the Bathroom Construction Campaign, SOHO China engineers came out to Tianshui to help build new, sanitary bathroom facilities at their partner schools.

In 2009 and 2010, the SOHO China Foundation also supported the Futures Brightened through Helping program. The Futures Brightened through Helping supported underprivileged university students through a scholarship program to cover a portion of their learning and living costs. Recipients were chosen based on their demonstrated scholastic excellence, leadership potential and financial need.

In 2014, Ms. Zhang and Mr. Pan announced the creation of the SOHO China Scholarships, a USD $100 million scholarship program. The SOHO China Scholarships provide support for underprivileged Chinese students studying at top international universities through endowed scholarships. By endowing the scholarships, they ensure that the university will always have the funding to accept any qualified Chinese candidate, regardless of their family’s socio-economic background. To date, the SOHO China Foundation has signed agreements with Harvard University (July 2014) and Yale University (October 2014).

Beyond endowing the scholarships at each partner school, the SOHO China Scholarships works directly with scholarship recipients to nurture their educational and professional aspirations. Each year, the SOHO China Foundation hosts a Forum that brings together all of the Scholars and members of the SOHO China Scholarships Board for a day of discussion, mentorship, and networking. The Foundation is committed to providing the scholars with access to unique opportunities, and encourages them to develop deep bonds so they can continue to be a resource to one another throughout their lives.

Ms. Zhang and Mr. Pan believe in the limitless potential of the SOHO China Scholars to serve as a bridge between China and the rest of the world. Their mastery of multiple languages, familiarity with different educational systems, comfort in foreign countries, and a global professional network will prepare them for a life as a public ambassador.

In 2018, the SOHO China Foundation is currently in talks with several prospective partner schools to expand the SOHO China Scholarships program to new universities.