City of Berlin Scholarship

The deadline for applications and re-applications is July 31, 2023.

The terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11, 2001 remain a terrible memory for many people.  The desire to help has also been tremendous.  All over the world people have organized ways of showing their support for the victims and their families.

As a response to the catastrophe, on behalf of the people of Berlin, the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation immediately initiated a fund-raising campaign, “Berlin helps the USA”.  The echo was overwhelming.  Up to the spring of 2002 Berlin citizens, institutions, organizations, companies, schools, nursery schools, and self-employed persons, along with supporters from the entire country donated an unbelievable DM 1.1 million.

The “City of Berlin” Scholarship Buddy Bear was a German-American cooperative project between the artists Frank Rödel and Bill C. Ray. The names of the German supporters (as of September 2002) of the “Berlin helps the USA” campaign are listed on the reproduction of the Twin Towers.

At that time, the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation already had close contacts with the Berlin Fire Department as well as their colleagues in the New York Fire Department.  Together with them the foundation organized the Fire Department Bridge New York – Berlin, which, in the summer of 2002, brought the children of firefighters killed or injured during the attacks to Berlin for one week.
These contacts, and the fact that 343 firefighters were killed when the World Trade Center towers collapsed, caused the board of directors of the foundation to consider possibilities to help their families more directly. At first the firefighters were left alone with their health and financial worries; this was true also of those who, even weeks later, continued to look for victims often without adequate breathing protection.

In the years following September 11, 2001, many of these firefighters suffered from respiratory diseases due to their dedicated assistance and were declared incapable of working and were given involuntary early retirement. This situation often led to great financial problems for the families of these New York firefighters, especially if their children had already begun college or university or if they hoped to do so in the future.

For this reason the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation decided to use the donated money to create a scholarship fund for these affected young people. This was the founding hour of the “City of Berlin Scholarship” (CBS). The money was invested in US treasury bonds, and the scholarships, awarded since 2005, are financed from the interest earned.

The partner of the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation in publicizing the City of Berlin Scholarship in the United States is Brooklyn-based Friends of Firefighters, Inc., a charitable organization that provides a diverse array of support services to help firefighters who were on duty on September 11th and their families.

The scholarship is open to persons who demonstrate financial need.  At least one parent must be an FDNY employee or first responder (or former employee / first responder who was in service in September 2001) and was officially declared incapable of working (sample see here: Award of Accident Disability Retirement of FDNY) as a result of the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York.

Since the first payment, the scholarship has been awarded to 79 young people. Thirty-five are currently receiving funding, and 44 have since completed their studies. The total amount of funding at the end of 2022 was $932,000.00. A list of the recipients is available here.

Dennis Buchner, former President of the Berlin House of Representatives, is the official patron of the City of Berlin Scholarship.

Additional opportunity for CBS graduates to apply for a follow-up scholarship
In addition to the City of Berlin Scholarship, all CBS recipients – indeed all US citizens – who wish to study or conduct research in Berlin and who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree are eligible to apply for a scholarship from the Study Foundation of the Berlin House of Representatives. The scholarship provides recipients with Berlin accommodations and a monthly stipend for 10 months, during which they can conduct research as part of program leading to a Ph.D. or master’s degree.

The scholarship from the Study Foundation of the House or Representatives of is available only to graduate students, especially Ph.D. students but also masters students, who wish to live and conduct research in Berlin.  An information sheet about the scholarship is available here. Detailed guidelines about the scholarship are available here and an application form is available here. The application deadline for the scholarship of the Study Foundation is December 15.  The Study Foundation of the Berlin House of Representatives is not affiliated with the Checkpoint Charlie Foundation.

Forms and documentation

FDNY Application 2023
FDNY Reapplication 2023

FDNY EMS Application 2023
FDNY EMS Reapplication

NYPD Application 2023
NYPD Reapplication

Video greetings from past CBS recipients
(all files are in mp4 format and will open in a new window. To download, right click and select “save as”)

Video greeting from Justine Brancato
Video greeting from Christina Murray
Video greeting from Samantha Mussorfiti
Video greeting from Joseph Pisicolo

Making a donation to the scholarship fund

To donate to the scholarship fund, wire your donation to:
Checkpoint Charlie Stiftung
“Berlin hilft den USA”
Berliner Volksbank
IBAN: DE90 1009 0000 8848 0510 05

Handover of the City of Berlin Scholarship “Buddy Bear” to the Fire Department of New York City (September 2016). CBS: 6 students, surrounded by firefighters, The Hon. Anja Schillhaneck, Deputy Chair CCS & former Deputy Speaker of the Berlin House of Representatives and Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro (left).