Feb 19, 2012

Community Service Pays Off—In Scholarships

Although service to others should be its own reward, there’s no question that many colleges, organizations, foundations, and businesses are willing to acknowledge outstanding community service on the part of high school students by awarding some very generous scholarships.

These scholarships are targeted to those who have a true passion for service. While many local high schools and school districts require service as part of the regular curriculum, to qualify for a community service scholarship, you’ll need to go above and beyond basic hour requirements.

Scholarship committees will want to see proof of service, hear from references, and have an idea that you are committed to continuing service into the future. Typically winners of these awards began early in their high school careers and dedicate hours weekly throughout the year. We’re not talking about a one-time mission trip to the Caribbean. The kind of volunteerism that wins awards is sustained and heartfelt.

In addition to specific school-based scholarships you’ll need to find on individual college websites, here are a few of the bigger national scholarships available to high school students who are deeply involved in community service:

  • Lowe’s Scholarship Program. Lowe’s typically awards 140 $2,500 scholarships to high school seniors who demonstrate a history of commitment to their community through leadership activities, community service and/or work experience. Applications for the 2012-12 program will be accepted until February 28, 2012. For more information and an online application form, visit the Lowe’s website.

  • Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program in the largest US recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. Over the past 16 years, more than 310,000 students have participated in the program and nearly 100,000 of them have been officially recognized for their volunteer work. In the US, each program year begins in September and online applications must be completed by November 1. Note that programs are also conducted in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, and India, where Prudential has significant business operations.

  • Do Something BRICK Awards. Since 1996, DoSomething.org has honored the nation’s best young adult “world changers.” This year, up to five finalists, each of whom will receive a $10,000 community grant, will be flown to New York and appear on Vh1. One will be selected as the Grand Prize winner and receive a total of $100,000 I community grants. Applications are due March 1, 2012.

  • Gloria Barron Prize. The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes honors outstanding young leaders who have made “a significant positive difference to people and our planet.” Nominees, who may range in age from 8 to 18 years old, must have been the prime mover of a service activity to qualify for a $2,500 award. Nominations and completed nomination packet must be received by April 30.

  • Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program. This program recognizes and rewards young volunteers (ages 6-18) who help make their communities a better place to live. This year, more than 2,200 kids will be recognized with over $440,000 in scholarships and prizes. National winners will each be awarded $10,000 and Kohl’s will donate $1,000 to a nonprofit organization on each winner’s behalf. Nominations will be accepted until March 15, 2012.

  • Coca-Cola Scholars Program. Each year, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation awards over $3 million in achievement-based four-year college scholarships to 250 outstanding high school seniors. Applicants are evaluated on the basis of “demonstrated leadership in academics, school, community and civic activities, as well as personal character and the motivation to serve and succeed. Applications are accepted from August to October 31 of the senior year in high school.

  • AXA Achievement Scholarship. Fifty-two winners (one from each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico) are selected to receive one-time scholarship awards of $10,000 each. From this pool, ten national winners are selected to receive an additional one-time scholarship of $15,000. Some of the remarkable accomplishments of AXA Achievers include setting up a food bank, designing a curriculum to get kids interested in science, and founding a nonprofit for young people encouraging community service andLink civic involvement. To register for information, visit the AXA Achievement website. The 2013 program kicks off later in the fall of 2012.

  • Buick Achievers Scholarship. This program rewards students who have succeeded both inside and outside the classroom—a leader in school, a volunteer, or a “community-minded individual.” Up to $25,000 per year for 100 first-time freshman or existing college students will be awarded to students entering qualified five-year engineering programs. One thousand additional students will receive $2,000 scholarships. Priority will be given to minority or first-generation students who show some financial need. Applications are due by February 29, 2012.

  • Comcast Leaders and Achievers Program. Every year, Comcast and the Comcast Foundation ask high school principals and guidance counselors to identify students who demonstrate a strong commitment to community service and display leadership abilities in school activities or through work experience. Since 2001, the program has recognized more than 15,400 students and given more than $15.4 million in scholarships. Nominations must be received no later than December 7, 2012.

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