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've divided 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.
Other good resources 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 for Community Service Scholarships
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
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 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 receive 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 awards $1,500 to students who have enhanced their educations through community service.
This award is for entering freshmen who display motivation, sincerity, and community involvement. Multiple awards between $250 and $1,000 are given.
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 scholarships are for students who have shown strong leadership skills – the ability to direct and inspire others – along with a dedication to community service.
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).
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 of $5,000 each.
Financial Need Scholarships
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 required. National scholarships of $25,000 are given every year, and smaller state scholarships are available 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 their senior year. Awards are $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. 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 Scholarships
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 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. You can also check out our complete guide to winning a Coca Cola Scholarship.
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 Scholarships
These scholarships are for students who are planning on pursuing certain degrees while in college.
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.
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.
This is for students who are interested in a culinary career. Applicants should have strong academic record, leadership, and community service. Award amounts vary.
This scholarship is for students with a GPA of 3.0+ who demonstrate financial need and are pursuing a 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.
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.
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.
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. Check out our complete guide on how to win a Tylenol 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.
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.
What's Next?Want to learn about even more community service scholarships? Continue on to part 2 of this article here.
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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.