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10 top scholarships for community service
Committed to volunteering? These awards honor your effort.
There are multiple foundations dedicated to helping student volunteers pay for college. If you have a record of community service, you could be eligible for multiple scholarships, awards and stipends.
Our methodology: How we picked these scholarships
We chose financial awards — not necessarily scholarships — that are available to high school and college students at a national level. Only programs with high funding rates and larger scholarship amounts made our list.
Do Something Awards
The Do Something scholarship is a random draw. Simply sign up for a qualifying campaign, complete it and upload a photo as proof. Do Something will announce winners three to four weeks after the campaign closes.
You can view Do Something’s current campaigns with scholarships to find one you might be interested in. Some campaigns even allow you to enter multiple times — so the more you volunteer, the higher your chances of being selected.
Segal AmeriCorps Education Award
AmeriCorps has a large number of volunteer positions across the country. When you complete a term of service — typically 10 months to a year — you’ll be eligible for an award that’s equal to the Federal Pell Grant for the year you served. Your award can be used to pay for tuition or your student loans if you’ve already graduated.
Having a history of service may help you get into an AmeriCorps program, but your previous volunteer time won’t count toward your award.
If you’re dedicated to community service and want to pursue it throughout college, then the Bonner Scholars or Bonner Leader Program may be a good choice. Every school has its own application process, so visit the Bonner page on your college’s website to learn more.
Bonner Scholars Program
If you aren’t able to afford college because of financial need, the Bonner Scholars Program may be able to help. It meets fully documented need of both US and non-US citizens. In return, you’ll participate in 10 hours of volunteer work per week — 140 hours per semester — and 280 hours during the summer.
Bonner Leader Program
Bonner Leaders receive financial aid — either a scholarship or work-study — directly from their school. There are no set volunteer requirements, so your service will depend largely on the school you attend.
Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
Prudential has recognized more than 130,000 student volunteers committed to public service. Students recognized at a state level receive a $1,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C. Students recognized at the national level receive an additional $5,000 scholarship as well as a $5,000 grant sent to a charity of their choice.
Winners are selected based on their initiative, effort involved and overall impact on the community.
Young Women in Public Affairs Award
Founded by the Zonta International Foundation in 1990, the Young Women in Public Affairs (YMPA) Award has been given to nearly 800 young women in 58 countries. If you live in a Zonta Club district and have a commitment to leadership and civic causes, then you may qualify. All applications must be given to your local Zonta Club by its self-determined deadline.
Scholarships with limited recipients
When a national-level scholarship only awards a handful of applicants each year, it may not seem worth applying. However, if you’ve been involved in community service and volunteer work, it could be beneficial to submit to these larger scholarships:
- Brower Youth Awards. If your community service revolves around the environment, consider the Brower Youth Awards. Six applicants receive a $3,000 cash prize, a professionally produced short film and a week-long trip to the San Francisco Bay Area.
- Davis-Putter Scholarship. The Davis-Putter Scholarship awards a grant of up to $15,000 to a select few undergraduate and graduate college students involved in social justice work.
- Princeton Prize in Race Relations. High school students who’ve spent their time improving race relations in their community may be eligible for the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. Scholarship awards go up to $1,000, and recipients are invited to an all-expenses-paid trip to the Princeton Symposium on Race.
- Jesse Brown Scholarship. Each year, applicants are awarded between $5,000 and $20,000 for their community service work with veterans. The scholarship is available to volunteers ages 21 and under who have spent 100 or more hours volunteering with the DAV or DAV Auxiliary.
- The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes. The Barron Prize gives 25 students between the ages of 8 and 18 a $10,000 award based on their commitment to helping the environment. Service projects must be done individually or in small groups, and work must be either ongoing or completed in the past 12 months.
How else can I pay for school?
If you’re on the hunt for even more scholarship and grant opportunities, look into these options:
- Federal Pell Grant. The Federal Pell Grant gives students with demonstrated financial need up to $6,195 in grant money for the 2019-2020 academic year. Award amounts vary each year.
- Work-study program. Many schools offer some type of work-study program that allows you to work for reduced tuition or an annual stipend.
- Other scholarships. Many schools and local organizations offer scholarships based on merit and other factors. Browse our list of college scholarships to find more. Remember: Even a small $500 award can reduce your overall college costs.
Compare student loan providers
If you’ve spent your high school career serving your community, there are a slew of scholarship programs that can help make a dent in your school’s cost of attendance. And once you’ve fully exhausted your scholarship and grant opportunities, you can compare student loan options to round out your funding.
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