Scholarships for Community Service Participants

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If you're passionate about community service, your devotion to serving others could pay off in the form of a college scholarship. You will find a wide variety of scholarship programs that reward civic-minded people by assisting them in the pursuit of their educational dreams.

Horatio Alger Association Scholarship Program

Founded in 1984, the Horatio Alger Association awards need-based scholarships to students whose public service activities demonstrate a strong motivation to making a positive difference in the world. Both national and state-level scholarships are available. National Scholarships are worth $25,000 while the State Scholarships are worth $10,000. There are 106 National Scholarships awarded each year. The number of State Scholarships ranges from four awards to fifty, depending on the state.


The National Scholarships and State Scholarships offered by the Horatio Alger Association share the same set of requirements. You must be a citizen of the United States and a high school senior who will enroll in a Bachelor's degree program immediately following high school graduation. You must show financial need, with an adjusted gross income of no more than $55,000 per year for your family. Your GPA must be 2.0 or above, and you must show significant involvement in civic service and extracurricular activities.

How to Apply

To apply for either a National Scholarship or a State Scholarship, you'll need to create an account and apply on the online application system. The application cycle runs from August 1 to October 25. Your high school counselor will have to fill out a certification form verifying your GPA and the coursework you've taken. As part of the online application, you must complete an Adversity Section that describes the challenges you've overcome. You'll also need to submit documents detailed in the application process that show your financial need.

Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship

The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship awards $20,000 to 150 students per year who demonstrate strong qualities of leadership and solid track records of community service. Coca-Cola Scholars are young people who have dedicated themselves to making a positive difference in their communities and schools.


To become a Coca-Cola Scholar, you must be a graduating high school senior. You need to be either a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States. The awards are achievement-based, not need-based. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation looks at your accomplishments in the areas of community and school-based service. Students with strong records of service accompanied by good academic credentials are excellent prospects for this award.

How to Apply

The application cycle opens each year in August and runs through the middle of November. During that time, you will be able to access an online application which you must complete section by section. When the application cycle is closed, you may examine a sample application that shows you what information you will need to provide, including biographical information, descriptions of your extracurricular activities, and details about your civic service projects, volunteer work, or internships in which you have participated. You'll also need to provide information about your high school coursework and any paid employment.

Young Women in Public Affairs Award

Sponsored by Zonta International Foundation, the Young Women in Public Affairs Award makes available ten international awards of $4,000 and 32 district and regional awards of $1,000. The awards are intended to encourage women's involvement in public service, and they recognize young women who are gifted leaders and who show civic responsibility.


To qualify for the award, you must be a young woman between the ages of sixteen and nineteen and live either in a country in which Zonta has a presence or in a district or region where a Zonta club is located. To find out about Zonta's presence near where you live, you can search for Zonta clubs. You must demonstrate leadership skills and a strong commitment to volunteer work. You must also be familiar with Zonta International Foundation and its mission and programs to empower women.

How to Apply

You'll need to download the application from the main Young Women in Public Affairs Award website by clicking on "Apply Now" near the bottom of the page. You'll get a Word document which you must fill out completely, including information about your volunteer work and public service experiences. Return the application along with supporting documents to the Zonta club nearest you before the deadline provided by that particular club. Applications are posted by August 1 of each year. You will need to get your school or college to verify your enrollment, and you'll need two letters of recommendation.

Samuel Huntington Public Service Award

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The Samuel Huntington Public Service Award provides $15,000 to a college senior to use after graduation to spend one year, anywhere in the world, doing meaningful community service. The year of public service must fall in between college graduation and embarking on a career or graduate study.


To be eligible for the award, you must be a college senior graduating from an accredited university or college in the U.S. The funds you receive need to be used directly in conjunction with your public service project. If you win the scholarship, half the funds will be disbursed at the beginning of your project, and the remainder will be disbursed at the six-month point when you provide a project report.

How to Apply

To apply for the Samuel Huntington Public Service Award, you must download the application and fill it out. You'll need to provide an abstract and a proposal for the project which you want to undertake, along with a budget for your project, an official transcript from the college or university from which you will graduate, a resume, and three letters of recommendation. If you are selected as a semifinalist, you'll have an interview.

LEAGUE Foundation Scholarships

The LEAGUE Foundation makes available four scholarships to high school seniors who identify as LGBTQ. Ever since the Foundation got its start in 1996, its mission has been to provide educational assistance to LGBTQ students who show a strong dedication to public service and who show academic potential and are committed to excellence. The scholarships range in value up to $4,000 per year and are disbursed to the college or university the student will be attending.


The four scholarships offered by the LEAGUE Foundation share the same requirements. You must be a citizen or a permanent resident of the United States and a graduating high school senior who identifies as LGBTQ. You must intend to start college right after high school graduation. You'll also need a minimum high school GPA of 3.0 and be able to provide proof you've been accepted to an accredited college or university in the United States or Canada.

How to Apply

The application cycle for the LEAGUE Foundation Scholarships begins in January and ends in April. Award recipients are chosen in the summer. A student must make a single application to be considered for all four scholarships. To apply, you'll use the online system on which you'll provide details about the extent of your community service and volunteer activities. You'll need to write two essays and get letters of recommendation from two people who aren't members of your family. You must also furnish an official high school transcript.

Gates Millennium Scholars Program

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Bill and Melinda Gates founded the Gates Millennium Scholars Program in 1999 to help fund higher education for outstanding minority students. Emphasis is placed on civic service and leadership potential. The amount of each award depends on the financial need of each recipient. The scholarships are renewable based on the maintenance of satisfactory academic progress.


To be eligible for a Gates Millennium Scholarship, you must be African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian-American or Pacific Islander, or Native American or Alaska Native. You must also be either a citizen of the United States or a permanent resident. You need to have a minimum 3.3 high school GPA and be enrolled at an accredited university or college. For financial need purposes, you must meet the eligibility criteria for a Pell Grant, and you must demonstrate a strong track record of leadership and public service.

How to Apply

The application cycle for the Gates Millennium Scholars Program opens in August and closes in January for a given upcoming academic year. When the application cycle is active, you'll want to visit the online application site and register to initiate and complete the process. You'll need to choose people to recommend you, and your recommenders will also have to register on the system. You will be required to answer some detailed essay questions regarding your leadership experience, service-related activities, your strengths, and your challenges.

Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards

Since 1998, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation has awarded scholarships of $1,000 to $3,000 to young Latino people who embody a spirit of service and a commitment to academic excellence. The Foundation has different categories in which this excellence can be demonstrated, including community service, education, health care and science, accounting and math, engineering, business and entrepreneurship, media and entertainment, and innovation and technology. The scholarships may be used by students for education expenses or public service projects.


Candidates for the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards must have a minimum GPA of 3.5 and be juniors in high school at the time of their application so they can be recognized and awarded the scholarship when they are seniors preparing for college. To be eligible for an award, you must be of Hispanic or Latino heritage. You must also be a United States citizen or permanent resident.

How to Apply

Deadlines fall in October of each year for high school juniors who are interested in the award, so you'll want to check the main website of the Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards to see when you will be able to apply. When the application cycle is open, you'll need to go to the online application site and create an account. You'll need to choose one of the relevant categories for the award, and you will need a letter of recommendation and verification of your GPA from your high school.

Ron Brown Scholarships

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Ron Brown Scholarships are named after the former Secretary of Commerce who served under President Bill Clinton. The awards are intended to recognize outstanding young African-Americans who exhibit strong leadership skills and a passion for civic service. Ron Brown Scholars receive $40,000, or $10,000 every year for four years. The funds must be used for higher education expenses. Scholars also participate in mentorship programs to develop their leadership and community service abilities.


To become a Ron Brown Scholar, you must be a graduating senior at the time of your application. You must also be African-American and a citizen or permanent resident of the United States. You must demonstrate financial need, and you must also show outstanding leadership abilities and potential, academic excellence, and a strong commitment to public service.

How to Apply

The deadline to apply for a Ron Brown Scholarship falls on January 9 every year. To apply, you'll need to download the scholarship application, read it carefully, and fill it out completely. Applications must be mailed to the Ron Brown Scholar program along with your high school transcript, two letters of recommendation, and your ACT or SAT scores. Between November and February, finalists are selected from the pool of applicants. These finalists will go to Washington, D.C. to undergo interviews and participate in various activities. Winners are chosen in the spring.

Davis-Putter Scholarship

The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund got its start in 1961. Its mission is to award scholarships up to $10,000 to students who embody the can-do community spirit for peace and social justice that was held by its founders, Marian Davis, Horace Davis, and Norton Putter. While activism is the most important criteria, the grants are also based on financial need.


To be eligible for a Davis-Putter Scholarship, you must be enrolled in college or a technical program, and you must have been devoting significant time to activism for economic and social justice. You don't need to be a citizen of the United States to apply, but you must be enrolled in an accredited U.S. college or university and have done social justice work in the country.

How to Apply

The deadline for Davis-Putter Scholarships is April 1 of each year. You will need to apply online by registering and providing the required information, and you'll also need to provide a 1,000-word personal statement describing your commitment to social justice activism. You will need transcripts of your college, university, or technical school coursework. Via email, you must request two letters of recommendation from people who are familiar with your social justice work. You must also send your Student Aid Report (SAR) or your worksheet for your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship

The Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship is funded by DAV (Disabled American Veterans) and rewards young people who are passionate about civic service and who volunteer to help and to serve veterans. The top scholarship is $20,000. Other scholarships are awarded in the amounts of $15,000, $10,000, $7,500, and $5,000. The money is awarded to young people to help pay for higher education at the college of their choice.


Candidates for the Jesse Brown Memorial Youth Scholarship must be no more than 21 years old and must have accumulated a minimum of 100 volunteer hours with DAV. These hours can also be credited to an LVAP (Local Veterans Assistance Program) under DAV's administration.

How to Apply

To apply for the Jesse Brown Memorial Scholarship, you'll need to download an application, fill it out, and return it by the end of February. The application has two parts. The first part is to be used by a DAV official if he or she is nominating you. You can, however, nominate yourself for the award, and to do this, you will need to fill out the second part of the form designated for that purpose. If you're nominating yourself, you'll need to write an essay about what it means to you to do volunteer work for veterans.

Bonner Scholars and Leaders Programs

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The mission of the Bonner Scholars and Leaders Programs is to help low-income young people who are committed to public service go to college. In 1990, the Bonner Foundation was founded in Kentucky to help "low-income, first generation, and underrepresented students" realize their dreams. Over the years, the Foundation has provided deserving students all over the country with education funding and opportunities for civic service. Amounts vary depending on a student's financial need.


Two programs are administered by the Bonner Foundation: the Scholars Program and the Leaders Program. Each program is carried out by numerous educational institutions throughout the United States. Specific eligibility requirements can be obtained by visiting the websites of the partnering institutions, and you'll find those links on the main application page. The Bonner programs emphasize public service, leadership skills, and social justice.

  • Bonner Scholars are selected on the basis of financial need, and they perform 140 hours of community service work during the school year and 280 hours of service in the summer.
  • Bonner Leaders must exhibit a desire to function as leaders in the context of their higher education environment and are awarded scholarships or participate in work-study programs at their college or university.

How to Apply

To apply to become a Bonner Scholar or a Bonner Leader, you'll need to apply directly to the partnering institution of your choice. Application procedures vary from school to school, so you need to get in touch with both the Admissions Office of the school in which you're interested and the office at the school that administers Bonner Programs. Links to schools that offer Bonner Programs are given on the Bonner application page.

Reward for Civic Virtue

For service-minded young people, a scholarship to defray the costs of a college education is a welcome gift. Through the experience of higher education, you can develop your leadership and service abilities so after graduation, you can put your civic passion to good use.

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Scholarships for Community Service Participants