Scholars at Risk



New York, NY

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2021):

Revenue: $2,962,965
Expenses: $2,089,023
Assets: $4,344,113


International Education Advocacy Group



Budget (2022):

Revenue: $4,948,609
Expenses: $2,830,598
Net Assets: $6,425,664

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Scholars at Risk is a nonprofit advocacy group that conducts advocacy and operates programs it claims helps to promote academic freedom internationally. The most notable activity of the organization is its operation of the SAR Network, an international network of over 650 higher education institutions that provide temporary faculty positions for academics who are threatened with imprisonment, death, or loss of position in their home countries. The group was founded in 1999 and conducts a wide array of advocacy and educational activities at universities throughout the United States and abroad. Funders of the organization include the Mellon Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the Open Society Foundations.1 2


Scholars at Risk was founded at the University of Chicago in 1999 and launched the SAR Network in 2000. Since its founding, the SAR network has grown to include over 650 higher education organizations throughout the world. The focus of the organization is to use the SAR network to arrange for temporary academic positions for academics who are facing imprisonment or endangerment in their home countries. The group also provides advice to participants, conducts advocacy for academics who are imprisoned in their home countries, and publishes a variety of research about academic freedom. 3

In 2003, the headquarters of the group was relocated from the University of Chicago to New York University, and in 2005 the group started organizing sections and partner networks in the U.S. and throughout the world. In 2012, the group launched the Academic Freedom Monitoring Project to “document attacks on higher education in specific countries or regions.” 4


The main program operated by Scholars at Risk is the SAR Network, which places academics at participating institutions when they need to flee their home country. The group also publishes an annual report titled “Free to Think,” which outlines annual numbers of killings, violence, disappearances, firings, prosecutions, and imprisonments of academics throughout the world. The group also operates a Scholars in Prison project which “advocates on behalf of scholars and students who are wrongfully imprisoned in connection to their academic or expressive activities.” 5

SAR also publishes and joins statements and appeals calling for the release of scholars purportedly imprisoned for academic or speech-related activities. The group also publishes newsletters regarding academic freedom and media, and provides submissions to the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review, which reviews the human rights records of nations. 6

While Scholars at Risk operates the international SAR network, individual SAR programs at Universities provide much of the funding to sponsor positions at their school. For example, Yale University announced in 2023 that it was providing $2.6 million in additional funding to the Scholars at Risk Program to bring seven additional SAR fellows to the school annually. The expansion of the Yale program was funded by Yale’s Office of the President, Office of the Provost, the MacMillan Center, and the Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs. 7


Funders of Scholars at Risk include large grantmakers including the Mellon Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Freedom House, the Henry Luce Foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Open Society Foundations, and the Charles Koch Foundation. 8


  1. “Supporters.” Scholars at Risk. Accessed March 24, 2024.
  2. “History.” Scholars at Risk. Accessed March 24, 2024.
  3. “History.” Scholars at Risk. Accessed March 24, 2024.
  4. “Advocacy.” Scholars at Risk. Accessed March 24, 2024.
  5. “Advocacy.” Scholars at Risk. Accessed March 24, 2024.
  6. “Advocacy.” Scholars at Risk. Accessed March 24, 2024.
  7. Cummings, Mike. “Yale expands efforts to protect scholars at risk.” YaleNews. February 7, 2023. Accessed March 24, 2024.
  8. “Supporters.” Scholars at Risk. Accessed March 24, 2024.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: August - July
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 2018

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2021 Aug Form 990 $2,962,965 $2,089,023 $4,344,113 $61,532 N $2,959,265 $0 $581 $0 PDF
    2020 Aug Form 990 $2,168,094 $1,891,520 $3,467,948 $55,987 N $2,160,684 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2019 Aug Form 990 $2,637,281 $1,957,910 $3,239,008 $102,144 N $2,624,393 $0 $9,167 $0 PDF
    2018 Aug Form 990 $4,409,031 $1,951,538 $2,563,028 $105,535 N $4,403,598 $1,555 $2,657 $0 PDF

    Scholars at Risk

    New York, NY 10003-7032