MetLife Foundation to support Access Academy Program at Asian University for Women

Foundation’s grant will provide more educational opportunities to socially and economically disadvantaged women
May 9, 2016 12:00 PM ET
Press Release

Hong Kong, May 9, 2016 /3BL Media/ – The Asian University for Women (AUW) and MetLife Foundation announced today that MetLife Foundation will support AUW’s collegiate bridge-year program – Access Academy. This one-year flagship program helps prepare students for AUW’s rigorous, American-style undergraduate studies and also aims to recruit talented women who may have had limited access to high quality education. Kamal Ahmad, President and CEO of Asian University for Women Support Foundation said, “Access Academy is a critical part of AUW’s commitment to academic excellence and social equity. MetLife Foundation shares AUW’s passion for providing educational opportunities to women and its support of this program will allow many more socially and economically disadvantaged women to change their lives.”

An Access Academy class typically has about 120 students coming from 15 countries across Asia and the Middle East. At AUW, through its international student population and teaching staff, students gain a deep appreciation for the value of diversity and the different views and ideas in addition to developing life-long learning and leadership skills. This has a multiplier effect in that AUW students also go on to impact and influence their families and communities, often inspiring neighbors and other family members to seek out higher education opportunities for their daughters.

“AUW is based in Bangladesh, an important market for MetLife and many of its students come from countries in Asia where we have operations,” said Chris Townsend, President of Asia for MetLife.  “Partnering with AUW gives us the opportunity to support talented women to further develop and maximize their potential.”

Students are recruited through an extensive admissions process that combines exams and personal interviews. The AUW looks for young women with key attributes, regardless of educational background, such as intelligence, empathy, a sense of social justice, and strong leadership potential. Many of the students recruited are garment workers and/or from refugee populations and are given an additional year to focus on developing English language skills before entering Access Academy.

“Knowledge is one of the key focus areas of MetLife Foundation’s strategy. We believe that while classroom-style adult education is important, it is enhanced by what we call ‘edu-action’ – the chance to put learned behaviors into practice and to learn by doing. We are proud to partner with AUW, an organization dedicated

to teaching these young women real-life skills beyond just a classroom education,” said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation.

About Access Academy

Access Academy is AUW’s one-year flagship program that prepares students for rigorous undergraduate studies. Focusing on English language, mathematics, and computer skills, the Access Academy provides AUW students with a common foundation of skills for a liberal arts education. Students take classes in small groups, allowing for individualized attention from the Access Academy instructors to each new student. This year of academic exploration complements students’ introduction to AUW’s multicultural environment as students are assigned roommates who come from different countries, highlighting AUW’s value for diversity and cross-cultural learning. AA students also take karate classes and choose a community service project for their first year at AUW, embodying the AUW ideal of a liberal arts education. Access Academy Co-Director Kristen Hartman says, “The Access Academy is frequently a pivotal experience for students.  In just one year, they grow in confidence and begin to discover their passions.”

About MetLife Foundation

MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife’s long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement. Since its founding through the end of 2015, MetLife Foundation has provided more than $700 million in grants and $70 million in program-related investments to organizations addressing issues that have a positive impact in their communities. Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. To learn more about MetLife Foundation, visit

About Asian University for Women (AUW)

AUW is an international university with an Asia focus located in Chittagong, Bangladesh. AUW has a student body drawn from 15 different countries across Asia and the Middle East, and has graduated more than 350 women so far. AUW offers a high-caliber liberal arts education for young women interested in topics ranging from public health to politics to environmental studies. AUW graduates have gone on to work in business, international development agencies, government institutions, and research facilities, always proving their commitment to using their passion and leadership to tackle challenges facing their home countries and women around the world. As a network of emerging women leaders, AUW alumnae are growing into the Asian region’s next generation of change-markers. For more information, please visit the AUW website at