Volunteer Community Service Essay Contest

Don’t believe everything you read. The millennial generation, decried and slammed by many for being selfish, has demonstrated an outstanding level of commitment to community to an almost unprecedented level. According to a Forbes study, millennials are more likely to volunteer and emphasize the importance of volunteering than their Boomer or Gen X predecessors were at the same age. In fact, when a group of millennials employed by large corporations was surveyed, over half claimed that they accepted their job in part by the causes the companies committed to.

With the last of the millennials trickling through high school into college by 2018, the importance of community service among young people has never been higher. In fact, students are more than ever encouraged to serve their communities and volunteer at a young age. As they say, “what goes around, comes around,” because those that demonstrate outstanding volunteer work will be rewarded with fantastic scholarship opportunities once they apply for college:

Do Something Awards

Deadline: April 15, 2016

Amount: $10,000

Designed to reward young civic-minded students with a vision for bettering either their local community or their country at large, the Do Something Awards are the standard-bearer for community service grants. Many different scholarship applications are available through the foundation’s opportunities, which include essay contests, shadowing prominent civic leaders, and tutoring fellow students.

Past winners at the Do Something Awards include current CNN political commentator and civil rights activist Van Jones, who received a financial grant for his efforts to end police misconduct in the San Francisco bay area. Scholarship money is awarded directly to tuition at the school of the student’s choice.

Learn more about this scholarship

Carson Scholars

Deadline: January 8, 2017

Amount: $1,000

The Carson Scholars Fund, uniquely, starts earlier than other scholarship programs. From the time students are in fourth grade, they are eligible to enter the Carson Scholarship Fund, which rewards both academic excellence and dedication to one’s community.

However, unlike other scholarships, it is up to the individual school to put a student’s name in contention for the award. Students interested must approach a teacher to nominate them for the award. Once given the award, laureates can reapply annually for additional funds. Younger students are awarded the scholarship money for when they go to college, a large medal, and a trophy for their school to display. For those graduating high school, a 3.75 cumulative GPA is required to be considered.

Learn more about this scholarship

Against The Grain Groundbreaker Leadership Scholarship

Deadline: May 31, 2016

Amount: $1,000

This scholarship is awarded annually to Asian-American high school seniors who “exhibit exemplary leadership, vision, and passion…blazing a trail for others to follow and changing lives in the Asian-American community.” In order to be eligible, students must be of at least 50% Asian or Pacific Islander ethnicity and demonstrate values that make them stand out among the other applicants.

Additional requirements include a minimum 3.5 GPA and a college acceptance letter at a four-year accredited university. The winner is later invited to the foundation’s annual charity event in Dallas, Texas.

Learn more about this scholarship

Heart of America Christopher Reeve Award

Deadline: October 31, 2016

Amount: $1,000

This annual award is named for the late actor Christopher Reeve, most known for playing Superman in the hero’s seventies and eighties film series. Following an accident later in his life, Reeve became a quadriplegic, using a wheelchair and portable ventilator until his untimely death at age 52 in 2004. Reeve was known for his advocacy for those with disabilities and bravery in the face of his physical condition, both of which led to his receiving of the Heroes of the Heart award from the Heart of America foundation in 2000.

After his death, Heart of America  established the Christopher Reeve Award in his honor. The award is open to those between the ages of 13-18 who demonstrate commitment and courage in serving their communities through volunteer work and other means. The student who the committee decides is most deserving is awarded a $1,000 by the sponsor, Merriam-Webster, to be used at a college of their choice.

Learn more about this scholarship

Harry S Truman Scholarship

Deadline: February 3, 2017

Amount: $30,000

Harry S Truman, the 33rd President of the United States, once stated that America was “built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” Through the scholarship established in his honor, students who demonstrate these three values will be rewarded with a tremendous grant of $30,000. In total, sixty-five awards are given out to be used towards a graduate education.

To be considered, students must demonstrate outstanding academic achievement, community dedication, commitment to a career in public service, and an inherent ability to be an agent of change. Students interested in applying must contact their school’s Truman representative to be nominated.

Learn more about this scholarship

Samuel Huntington Public Service Award

Deadline: January 19, 2017

Amount: $15,000

While not necessarily a scholarship, for students who plan to enter public service or volunteering, the Huntington Award is the holy grail. Awarded annually to one student, the award provides $15,000 for a graduating college senior to undertake a year-long public service project. Given out since 1989, past winners have set up non-profit organizations, built schools in Kenya, and mentored at-risk urban students, among other great causes.

The application requires an abstract and proposal for the project, a resume, academic transcripts, a proposed budget, and three letters of recommendation, among other aspects.

Learn more about this scholarship

Did you know that your extracurricular activities can earn you money for college?

In particular, there are a lot of scholarships available to students who have chosen to spend their free time helping out others in their communities through volunteer work.

Read on for the most complete lists of volunteer scholarships available. We'll even divide the scholarships by type so you can tell easily if you qualify.


Why Community Service Scholarships?

If you're the type of person who spends your free time helping others, you probably already know about some of the benefits of this type of work: you get to make a positive impact in your community while getting life experience that will help you develop as a person.

But you may not have been aware that there's another potential benefit: community service is also a great way to earn some extra cash for college. Many universities and organizations value individuals who they think will make a difference in the world, and offering scholarships to students who have dedicated their time to improving the lives of others is one way that they can contribute to those changes.


How to Find Community Service Scholarships

There are a lot of different kinds of community service scholarships, and they come from a lot of different sources, including charities, the government, religious groups, and universities themselves. Some of the scholarships offered will help fund tuition costs, while others will help you pay for charitable projects that you want to organize, or give you the opportunity to do more volunteer work.

Though you may not have seen many of these scholarships advertised, there are hundreds of them out there. If you don’t see something on the list below that pertains to you, do an internet search for what you're interested in or specific to the type of work that you have done.

Another good resource are the college and financial aid counselors at your high school, who may know of local and national opportunities, as well as scholarships related to volunteer programs at your school.

Additionally, ask the organizations where you volunteer if there are any scholarships available. Quite frequently, churches, religious groups, hospitals, and other community clubs and organizations provide awards to help out students with the cost of education.


How to Apply

Each of the scholarships listed below has its own application procedure and eligibility requirements. Start looking into the scholarships you're interested in well in advance so that you don’t miss any deadlines. You can also increase your chances of being eligible for more scholarships if you start to plan early.

You'll see that many of the scholarships below have very specific eligibility criteria. If you're looking to get involved in a community service project and don’t have anything particular in mind, try choosing something that will make you eligible for one (or more) of these awards.

Also keep in mind that the community service work you do can qualify you for several different scholarships. Be sure to apply to all scholarships that you're eligible for, and don’t be intimidated by the wording of the scholarship requirements – it’s always worth a shot to get college money!


Key tip: Apply early, and apply often! Not all of these scholarships are limited to high school seniors and college students. If you start applying in 9th grade (or even earlier), you'll have a head start on building up your scholarship fund.


List of Community Service Scholarships by Category

The following scholarships are grouped according to type of community service or other special requirements. You'll notice that many of these scholarships are available to students who have done any type of community service, as long as you can show significant involvement.

Some of these scholarships should fit into more than one category (such as a social activism scholarship that also requires a high GPA). In these cases, I’ve put them in what I consider to be the most restricting group.

The categories are:

  • General volunteer scholarships
  • Leadership
  • Financial need
  • Strong academics
  • Specific field of study
  • Environmental focus
  • Special circumstances
  • Special affiliation
  • Certain location or college
  • Minority
  • Social activism

Feel free to scroll down to the category you most qualify for, or just browse through all the scholarships available!


General Volunteer Scholarships

The scholarships in this list are for students who have dedicated several hours to volunteer work. There are no particular restrictions about the kind of work you can have done for these awards, but you should be able to show long-term commitment and how you've made an impact.



Americorps Vista

This service program—with a scholarship awarded at the end—is for students aged 17 and older. You must be willing to commit to 10-11 months of service at a nonprofit organization or government agency. You will recieve a living stipend while you are serving. Scholarship awards given at the end of service are $5,815.


AXA Achievement Scholarship

This scholarship is for ambitious and determined high school seniors who show respect for themselves, their families, and their communities. Students will have the opportunity to win awards of $2,500, $10,000, or $25,000.


Bonner Scholars Program

This scholarship is for college students with demonstrated financial need who are willing to perform 10 hours of community service per week during the school year and 280 total hours in the summer. The program meets the full documented financial need of each student. Students must be attending a school with a Bonner Scholars program and will apply through their campus.


Great Value Colleges Community Service Scholarship

Great Value Colleges awards $1,500 to students who have enhanced their educations through community service.


LULAC National Scholarship Fund General Awards

This award is for entering freshmen who display motivation, sincerity, and community involvement. Multiple awards between $250 and $1,000 are given.


Montage Memory Makers Scholarship

This scholarship is for teens aged 13–17 who have come up with creative solutions to community problems. There are five awards of $10,000.


Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

These awards are for students in grades 5–12 who have participated in community service in the past 12 months. National Honorees receive a $5,000 award, a medallion, a trophy, and a $5,000 grant to a charity of choice. State Honorees receive an award of $1,000, a medallion, and a paid trip to Washington, D.C. Local Honorees receive a Certificate of Achievement.


Samuel Huntington Public Service Award

These awards are for graduating college seniors who plan to do a year of public service anywhere in the world. The awards are of $15,000.




These scholarships are for students who have shown strong leaderships skills – the ability to direct and inspire others – along with a dedication to community service.


Alliant Energy Community Service Scholarship

This essay contest awards $1,000 to 25 students age 24 or under who have leadership roles in community service activities whose families are Alliant customers (Alliant's service area is Iowa and Wisconsin).


Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship Program

This award is for high school seniors who are nominated by their principals or guidance counselors for having shown a dedication to community service and leadership. There are over a thousand awards of $1,000.


Elks National Foundation Most Valuable Student Competition

US citizens who have shown leadership, scholarship, and financial need can apply. There are  2 awards of $50,000, 2 awards of $40,000, 2 awards of $30,000, 14 awards of $20,000, and 480 awards of $4,000.


GE-Reagan Foundation Scholarship

This award is for students who show leadership, drive, and good citizenship. There are around 20 awards of $10,000, which are renewable each year of college for up to $40,000.


State Farm Good Neighbor Scholarship

These scholarships are for high school seniors with a GPA between 2.5 and 3.2 and who are leaders and volunteers in their communities. There are fifty awards of $5,000 each.


Financial Need

These scholarships are aimed at students who have dedicated their time to serving their communities and who also can demonstrate financial need.



Horatio Alger Association Scholarship Program

High school students who have shown integrity, financial need, academic achievement, and community service may apply for this award. You will need a 2.0 GPA. A family income less than $55K is required. National scholarships of $25,000 are given every year, and smaller state scholarships are available as well.


Imagine America High School Scholarship

This award is for high school graduates who intend to enroll at a career college. They must have a high school GPA of at least 2.5, be able to demonstrate financial need, and have demonstrated community service during senior year. Awards are of $1,000.


Ronald McDonald House Charities US Scholarships

Students under 21 who can show financial need and who have academic achievement, leadership, and community service experience are eligible for these awards. Most scholarships are administered through local Ronald McDonald House Charities (like these through RMHC Central Indiana); look for the local office near you. Scholarship amounts vary.


Strong Academics

These scholarships are for students who have managed to balance schoolwork with volunteer work. They are aimed at students who have achieved top grades and test scores.


Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship

Graduating high school students with who demonstrate academic achievement and who have shown a commitment to improving their communities are eligible for this award. 150 awards of $20,000 are given every year.


Wendy’s High School Heisman Award

This award is for rising high school seniors who excel in academics, athletics, and community service. You must have 3.0 GPA. The number of awards and amount varies from $1,000-$10,000.


Field of Study

These scholarships are for students who are planning on pursuing certain degrees while in college.



Davidson Fellowships

This award is for students under the age of 19 who have done significant work in math, science, technology, music, literature, or philosophy, or another field that will benefit society. There are 20 total awards in amounts of $10,000, $25,000, and $50,000.


Dr. Alma S. Adams Scholarships

These scholarships are for college students pursuing degrees in public health, communications, social work, education, liberal arts, or a related field. They should have GPA of 2.0+ and demonstrate financial need. Student must provide evidence of community activities including activism, outreach, or peer counseling in tobacco prevention or control.


James Beard Foundation Scholarship

This is for students who are interested in a culinary career. Applicants should have strong academic record, leadership, and community service. Award amounts vary.


James M. and Virginia M. Smyth Scholarship

This scholarship is for students with GPA of 3.0+ who demonstrate financial need and are pursuing degree in arts and sciences, human services, music, or ministry. Students must have shown a commitment to community service. There is a preference for applicants from Missouri, Mississippi, Georgia, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas, and Tennessee. 12 – 15 awards of $2,000 are given every year, and they are renewable for up to four years.


Mary A. Mades Volunteer Scholarship Award

This scholarship is awarded by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston to a student pursuing a degree in healthcare who has spent at least 125 hours volunteering at Beth Israel over the past 2 years.


National Strength and Conditioning Association High School Scholarship

This scholarship is for high school seniors with a GPA over 3.0 looking to enter a strength and conditioning field who have a track record of community service and are members of the NSCA. There are multiple $1,500 awards available.


Tylenol Future Care Scholarship

This award is for college or graduate students studying healthcare, who have high GPAs and can show community involvement. Awards range from $500-$10,000.


Washington Hospital Service League Volunteer Scholarship

This award is for high school seniors and college students in the Washington Hospital District who are pursuing a healthcare-related degree, with a GPA of at least 2.5, and who have volunteered for at least 100 hours in healthcare. The award is $1,000 and is renewable for all 4 years of college.


Young Women in Public Affairs Award

Women aged 16-19 who are pursuing careers in government, public policy, and community organizations, and who are involved in community service, should apply for this scholarship. Ten international scholarships of $4,000 and up to 32 scholarships of $1,000 are awarded each year.



Environmental Focus

These scholarships are for students who have dedicated their time to helping the environment.



Brower Youth Awards

This scholarship is for students who have shown leadership in environmental activism. Six awards of $3,000 are given every year, plus a professional film crew will make a short film about the winners’ work. The winner will also receive a week-long trip to California to participate in media engagements and environmental conferences.


Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes

This scholarship is for students aged 8 - 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people or the environment. There are 25 awards of $5,000.


Special Characteristics and Circumstances

These scholarships are for students who have faced certain challenges or who have special characteristics.




LEAGUE Foundation Scholarship

LGBT high school seniors with a GPA of 3.0 and above who are involved in community service can apply for this scholarship.


Live Out Loud Scholarships

This scholarship is for high school seniors who identify as LGBTQ from the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut). You must demonstrate leadership, a strong academic record, and community service. Awards of up to $10,000 are given every year.


National Federations of the Blind Scholarship

Legally blind college students from US and Puerto Rico may apply. The winner is chosen based on academic excellence, community service, and leadership. Awards are between $3,000 and $12,000. Up to 30 awards are given each year.


PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Scholarships

This scholarship is for high school seniors or college students in New Mexico who are LGBT or a straight ally. Students must show integrity and participation in community activities. Awards are $1,000.


Yes, I Can Council for Exceptional Children Award

Students between 3 and 21 years old with a disability can be nominated by a teacher, parent, other nominee, or even a self-nomination! The student must be involved in various activities including volunteer work.


Special Affiliations

These scholarships are for students who are associated with certain groups.



Americorps National Civilian Community Corps

This scholarship is for U.S. citizens  between 18 and 24 who are willing to serve on Americorps campuses in Denver, Sacramento, Baltimore, Vinton (IA) or Vicksburg (MS). Winners must commit to 10 months of service in the region. The scholarship awarded at the close of service is for $5,815.


Burger King Scholars Program

These awards are for Burger King employees or relatives of employees who show good citizenship and commitment to the community.


Eagle Scout Scholarship

The National Eagle Scout Association offers two kinds of awards for Eagle Scouts: academic awards and merit awards. Academic scholarships are offered in amounts up to $50,000, and merit scholarships are offered up to $5,000. Academic scholarship applicants must be in their senior year of high school. Merit scholarship applicants must be high school seniors or college students not past their junior year of study.


Jesse Brown Scholarship

Students aged 21 and under who have done at least 100 hours of community service to serve veterans at a VA medical center can apply for these awards. There is one top scholarship of $20,000, and additional scholarships of $15,000, $10,000, $7,500, and $5,000.


National Honor Society Scholarship Program

These awards are for high school students who are members of NHS. Any senior member of a chapter may apply. Awards come in a variety of amounts depending on how far the student advances in the scholarship competition and range from about $3,000-$22,000.


Navin Narayan College Scholarship

This award is for high school seniors who have served at least 2 years as a Red Cross volunteer. There is a one-time award of $1,000.


Siemens Foundation Scholarship

This $4,000 award is for high school juniors who are children of full-time Siemens employees and who have an excellent academic record and have made significant contributions to the community. 


Certain Location or College

These volunteer awards are only available to students who are from a certain location or are planning on attending college in certain areas.



Albert Shanker UFT College Scholarship Fund

This award is available to  New York City public high school seniors with good academic standing and who can show leadership in the community. Students must also be eligible for Pell Grants and have a family income below a certain threshold. The award is for $5,000.


Angie M. Houtz Memorial Fund Scholarship

This scholarship is awarded to students attending college in Maryland who demonstrate both academic achievement and a record of community service. The awards are for $3,000.


Boettcher Foundation Scholarship

This scholarship is for academically gifted Colorado high school students. Applicants must also have community service and leadership experience. The award is for full tuition, fees, and a $2,800 annual living expenses stipend for attending one of the Scholarship-approved colleges within Colorado (list on website).


Edward J. McFadden Scholarship

This scholarship is for high school seniors attending school in New York City who live in the Washington Heights, Inwood, or Marble Hill communities, who have participated in voluntary community service. Awards are between $1,000 and $3,000.


Financial Services Center of New York Scholarship Program

This scholarship is for seniors from New York City and the surrounding counties who have shown academic achievement, leadership, and who have performed at least 50 hours of community service per school year. There are several awards ranging from $2,000-$7,500 given.


Ford Scholars Program

High school seniors or community college students enrolling in a bachelor’s degree in Oregon or California, who are residents of Oregon or Siskiyou County, California, can apply for this award. Students should show financial need, good character, have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and show concern for others through volunteer projects. Up to 120 awards between $1,000 and $25,000 are granted every year; award amounts are based on need and cover up to 90% of costs not covered by other sources.


Garrett J. Goodchild Achievement Award

This scholarship is for high school seniors from Eastlake High School or Redmond High School who plan to attend one of the 10 independent colleges of Washington. Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.0 and have demonstrated leadership and community service. Awards are of $2,500. They are renewable up to 4 years for a total of $10,000 as long as a 3.0 GPA is maintained.


Green Mountain College’s Make a Difference Scholarship

This award at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont, is for a student who has made a significant positive difference in the community or the lives of others. The award covers tuition, room and board for four years. You must ask a teacher or mentor to nominate you.


Montezuma Lodge Scholarship

These scholarships are for first year college students from Santa Fe, who have good GPAs and have shown leadership in the community. At least 3 awards of approximately $2,000 each are given every year.


Newman Civic Fellows Award

This scholarship is for college students who have shown leadership skills and involvement in solving community problems. You must attend a Campus Compact member institution and be nominated by a college/university chancellor or president. The award amount varies.


New York Times College Scholarship Program

This award is for New York City high school seniors who have shown a commitment to education and community service. The award is up to $15,000 per year, renewable for three years. Recipients also recieve mentoring and a summer internship at the New York Times.


Stanley O. McNaughton Community Service Award

These awards are for college juniors and seniors attending one of the Independent Colleges of Washington. You must demonstrate a history of dedicated volunteer service throughout high school and college and have financial need. There are three awards of $2,500.


Thurgood Marshall College Scholarship Fund

This fund offers a number of scholarships for high school seniors or college students enrolled at one of 47 historically black public colleges. The number and amount of awards varies. 


Tyler/Grandmaison MELMAC Scholarship

This award is for high school seniors from any high school in Maine. You must be nominated by your principal for facing obstacles in pursuit of higher education, having financial need, being a solid citizen of your school, and showing a commitment to making a difference in the community.


Minority Group

These scholarships are for students who have affiliations with certain minority groups or a particular ethnicity.



Asian Women in Business Scholarship

Female students of Asian ancestry who show excellent academics (a GPA of at least 3.0), leadership, and community service are eligible to apply for this scholarship. The prize is a one-time award of $2,500.


Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Scholar-Intern Program

These scholarships are for Latinx students with strong academics who have a history of performing public service and charitable activities in the community. Students must have financial need and strong writing skills. Students will also recieve an internship placement. Award amount varies. 


Columbus Citizens Foundation College Scholarship Program

High school seniors of Italian descent (at least 25%) with household incomes less than $25,000 per person in the household can apply for this scholarship. You should also have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and have shown commitment to community service. The award amount varies.


Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards

These awards are for Hispanic rising seniors with GPAs of at least 3.5 and above who have shown commitment to community service.


Japanese American Citizens League Scholarships

These scholarships are for high school students and college students who are JACL members (you do not need to be of Japanese/Japanese heritage to be member - anyone can join). You will have to submit a personal statement, your academic record, letters of recommendation, details about your community service, and details about your work experience. There are separate awards for entering Freshmen, and current undergraduate students. The award amounts vary.


RHMC/HACER National Scholarship

This scholarship is for Hispanic high school seniors (at least one parent of Hispanic/Latino heritage) who show academic achievement, financial need, and community involvement. There are a small number of large national awards ($25,000 per year) and some additional local awards of at least $1,000.


Ron Brown Scholarships

These scholarships are for African American high school seniors who have financial need, academic excellence, leadership, and community service experience. The awards are of $10,000/year, and are renewable for up to 4 years (for a total of $40,000).


Whitney M. Young, Jr. Memorial Scholarship

These awards are given to minority New York City residents who are high school graduates, and have strong academic achievement, leadership skills, and commitment to community service. The program awards scholarships between $1,500 and $5,000.


Worldstudio AIGA Scholarships

This award is for minority and economically disadvantaged students who are studying art and design, and also have shown a commitment to community service. Basic scholarships are in the amount of $2,000-$3,000. There are also two additional awards of up to $5,000 and honorable mention prizes of $500.


Social Activism

These scholarships are aimed at students who have been working hard to bring about changes in society.




Barbara Wiedner & Dorothy Vandercook Memorial Scholarship Foundation Peace Scholarships

This scholarship is awarded to a high school senior or college freshman who shows leadership and initiative in activities involving peace and social justice, nuclear disarmament, and/or conflict resolution. Awards are of $250 or $500.


Davis-Putter Scholarship

This scholarship is for college students who are actively involved in fighting for social justice or civil rights. Multiple awards up to $10,000 are given every year.


Margaret McNamara Education Grants

This scholarship is for women from developing countries who are pursuing study in the U.S. or Canada. Note that awardees must be at least 25 years of age. Grant awards are for up to $15,000. 


Princeton Prize in Race Relations

This $1,000-prize is awarded to students in grades 9–12 who have been involved in community service in the past 12 months and have encouraged positive race relations. Students will also be invited to attend a symposium at Princeton.


Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Scholarship

This scholarship is for students aged 5–25 who have shown on-going commitment to an unpaid volunteer activity in the past year that involves fighting hunger. Additional consideration is given if you have been fighting childhood hunger. Winners will receive an award of $5,000 for their education plus a $5,000 grant in their name to a hunger-related charity of their choice.



What's Next?

Whew—that's a lot of scholarships!

If you're concerned about paying for college, here's a complete guide to figuring out how much college will cost for you.

Getting into college requires a strong application, including SAT/ACT scores. How high of an SAT score or ACT score do you need to get into your top colleges?


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:


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