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
- Financial need
- Strong academics
- Specific field of study
- Environmental focus
- Special circumstances
- Special affiliation
- Certain location or college
- 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.
This scholarship 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. Awards are $5,775.
This scholarship is for ambitious and determined high school seniors who show respect for themselves, their families, and their communities. 52 scholarships are awarded every year – one to a student from each state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. State winners are awarded $10,000. Ten national winners receive an additional $15,000 (for $25,000 total).
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.
This scholarship is for US Citizens aged 13 – 18 who have shown courage and compassion in serving their communities. Awards are of $1,000.
This award is for college students aged 18 – 25 who are eligible for foreign travel who want to conduct a community service project in another country. Recipients are given a fellowship to conduct the project. The average fellowship award amount is $2500.
This award is for entering freshmen who display motivation, sincerity, and community involvement. Multiple awards between $250 and $1,000 are given.
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.
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.
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.
This essay contest awards $1,000 to 25 students who have leadership roles in community service activities.
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.
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.
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.
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. The average award is for $2,500.
These scholarships are aimed at students who have dedicated their time to serving their communities and who also can demonstrate financial need.
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 preferred. National scholarships of $25,000 are given every year, and state scholarships of $6,000-10,500 are awarded as well.
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.
Students under 21 who can show financial need and who have academic achievement, leadership, and community service experience are eligible for these awards. Multiple awards of $1000 are given.
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.
Graduating high school students with a GPA of at least 3.0 and who have shown a commitment to improving their communities are eligible for this award. 150 awards of $20,000 are given every year.
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.
Field of Study
These scholarships are for students who are planning on pursuing certain degrees while in college.
The Buick Achievers Program is for high school seniors or undergraduates who are leaders in the classroom and in the community. You should be majoring in engineering, technology, design or business and have an interest in the automotive industry.50 renewable scholarship up to $25,000 per year.
This award is for students under the age of 18 who have done significant work in math, science, technology, music, literature, or philosophy, or another field, that will benefit society. There are 4 awards of $50,0000, 7 awards of $25,000, and 5 awards of $10,000.
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 3.0+ and demonstrate financial need. Student must provide evidence of community activities including activism, outreach, or peer counseling in tobacco prevention or control. Two awards of $5,000 will be given every year.
This scholarship is for college or aviation academy students who are studying aviation. Students must be involved in aviation activities as well as community service, and must be recommended by an EAA member. The award is for $500.
This is for students who are interested in a culinary career. Applicants should have strong academic record, leadership, and community service. Several awards between $2,500 and $3,500 are given every year.
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.
High school students or teams are awarded up to $10,000 to invent a technological solution to real-world problems.
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 over the past 2 years.
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. There are multiple $1,500 awards available.
This award is for college students studying healthcare, who have high GPAs and can show community involvement. There are up to 20 awards of $500 - $2,500; ten awards of $10,000; and 30 awards of $5,000.
This award is for high school seniors and college students 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.
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.
These scholarships are for students who have dedicated their time to helping the environment.
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.
This scholarship is for students aged 8 - 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people or the environment. There are 15 awards of $5,000.
Special Characteristics and Circumstances
These scholarships are for students who have faced certain challenges or who have special characteristics.
LGBT high school seniors with a GPA of 3.0 and above who are involved in community service can apply for this scholarship. Up to 7 awards per year of $1,500 are awarded.
This scholarship is for high school seniors who identify as LGBTQ from New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. You must demonstrate leadership, strong academic record, and community service. Awards of up to $10,000 are given every year.
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.
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. There are a minimum of 15 awards of $1,000.
Students between 2 and 21 years old with a disability may apply for this award. You must be involved in various activities including volunteer work. Awards are between $500 and $700.
These scholarships are for students who are associated with certain groups.
This scholarships is for U.S. citizens aged between 18 and 24 who live on Americorps campuses in Denver, Sacramento, Perry Point, or Vicksburg. Winners must commit to 10 months of service in the region. The awards are for $5,645.
These awards are for Burger King employees or relatives of employees or high school seniors who show good citizenship and commitment to the community. There are multiple awards between $1,000 and $50,000.
This award is for students under the age of 25 who work with Do Something on community projects. Winners may also participate in a VH1 show. 5 awards of at least $10,000 in community grants will be given. Of that, $5,000 can be used as a scholarship. Additionally, one grand prize of $100,000 in community grants will be awarded.
This award is given to high school students, especially those junior year and younger (younger than 19). They must have reached Eagle Scout status and be registered in an active unit. The application is made through the unit. Students may apply for this award for multiple years, but maximum amount you can win is $10,000. There are 3 awards given out each year of $4,000, $6,000 and $10,000.
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.
These awards are for high school students who are members of NHS. Each chapter may nominate two students based on character, scholarship, leadership, and service. 200 state finalists get $1,000; 53 state winners receive an additional $500 for a total of $1500; 9 regional winners receive an additional $1500 for a total of $3000; and one national winner receives an additional $10,000 for a total of $13,000.
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.
This award is for high school juniors who are children of Siemens employees and who have an excellent academic record and significant contributions to the community. The awards are of $4,000.
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.
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. There are 200 awards of $5,000 every year.
This scholarship is awarded to students attending college in Maryland, with a GPA of 3.0 or higher who have completed at least 200 hours of community service. The awards are for $3,000.
This scholarship is for high school seniors who are in the top 5% of their class and have scored a 27+ on ACT or 1200+ on SAT. Must be residents of Colorado and have community service and leadership experience. The award is for full tuition and a $2,800 stipend.
This scholarship is for high school seniors attending school in New York City who live in the Washington Heights, Inwood, or Mable Hill communities, who have participated in voluntary community service. Awards are between $1,000 and $3,000.
This scholarship is for seniors from New York City and the surrounding counties who have shown academic achievement, leadership, and at least 50 hours of community service per school year. There are several awards up to $7,500 given.
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, CA, 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.
This scholarship is for high school seniors from Eastlake High School or Redmond High School who plan to attend one of the 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.
There are up to ten awards per year for students at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont, who have made a significant positive difference in the community or the lives of others. The award covers tuition, room and board for four years.
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.
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. The award amount varies.
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 $7,500 per year, renewable for three years.
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 $2,000 with the possibility of renewal.
This award is for high school seniors or college students enrolled at one of 47 historically black public colleges with minimum 3.0 GPA and an SAT score of 1100 or an ACT score of 25. You must maintain 3.0 average for duration of award. Winners need to show commitment to academics, financial need, and community service. The number of awards varies. The average award is $3,100 per semester for 2 semesters, and is non-renewable.
This award is for high school seniors from any high school in Maine. You must be nominated by your principal for having faced obstacles in pursuit of higher education, being a solid citizen, and showing a commitment to making a difference in the community. The awards are for $1,500.
Great Value Colleges awards $1500 to students who have enhanced their educations through community service.
These scholarships are for students who have affiliations with certain minority groups or have a certain ethnicity.
Female Asian students (or of Asian ancestry) who show excellent academics, leadership, and community service are eligible to apply for this scholarship. The prize is a one-time award of $2,500. The award amount can be doubled if the student demonstrates financial need.
These scholarships are for Latinx students who have a history of performing public service and charitable activities in the community. Students must have financial need and strong writing skills. An award of $1,000 is given to pursue associate degree, $2,500 to pursue an undergraduate degree, and $5,000 to pursue a graduate degree.
High school seniors of Italian descent 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.
Minority students with an unweighted GPA of at least 3.3 who are eligible for Federal Pell Grants may apply for this award. You must have shown leadership through community service. The amount of the award varies, but the average amount is $12,492. The awards are renewable.
These awards are for Hispanic rising seniors with GPAs of 3.5 and above who have shown commitment to community service. Awards are between $1,000 and $5,000.
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 8 awards for undergraduate students. The award amounts vary.
This scholarship is for Hispanic high school seniors who show academic achievement, financial needs, and community involvement. There are 4 national awards of $100,000 paid over four years, and local awards of at least $1,000.
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 3 years.
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 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Scholarship is for $3,500, and the Incentive Award is for $1,500.
This award is for minority and economically disadvantaged students who are studying art and design, and also have shown a commitment to community service. There are two awards up to $5,000; basic scholarships between $2,000 - $3,000; and honorable mention prizes of $500.
These scholarships are aimed at students who have been working hard to bring about changes in society.
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 between $250 and $500.
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.
This scholarship is for women from developing countries who are residents of the U.S. or Canada. Students must have shown commitment to helping women and must intend to return to their native countries within two years of graduation. Awards are between $4,000 and $12,000.
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.
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.
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.
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Mary Ann holds a BA in Classics and Russian from the University of Notre Dame, and an MA from University College London. She has years of tutoring experience and is also passionate about travel and learning languages.