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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Whew—that's a lot of scholarships!
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But when I was a teen, I liked to volunteer at the front desk of the local children’s hospital.
One summer I went to South Africa to expand after-school programs. I even took a college semester off to ride around the country, educating students about child soldiers and the civil war taking place in Uganda.
To say I’m passionate about community service and social justice might be an understatement.
But I didn’t climb out of my crib with a fire for inciting social change. I started volunteering because I needed scholarships.
Apply for These 12 Community Service Scholarships
Scholarship programs are a great way to introduce young people to life outside their social media-sized bubbles. I’ve kept the professional experiences and compassion I gained volunteering throughout my adult life.
You can make a real impact investing in your community through organizations that serve marginalized people, further the arts or contribute to whatever other cause lights you up. And here are some scholarships that will reward you for it.
1. DoSomething.org Campaign Scholarship
Every month, DoSomething.org runs “campaigns,” such as sharing ways to combat bullying or a digital guide on identifying abuse. You can participate in one or all of them and win up to $12,000.
There’s no essay, application or GPA requirement. You just have to be between 13 and 25 years old. And if you’re not in college when you win, the organization will hold on to your prize until you head to college.
The deadlines occur monthly.
2. Princeton Prize in Race Relations
This cash prize of $1,000 is awarded to students in grades 9-12 who’ve used community service to significantly encourage positive race relations during the past 12 months.
Winners also receive an all-expenses paid trip to Princeton University for its symposium on race. One prize is awarded in each of the 27 regions in which the organization operates.
The deadline is annually in January.
3. Jesse Brown Scholarship
Students 21 and under who have done at least 100 hours of community service serving veterans at a VA medical center can apply for these awards. There is one top scholarship of $20,000, as well as additional scholarships of $15,000, $10,000, $7,500 and $5,000.
The deadline is annually in February.
4. The Herbert Lehman Education Fund Scholarship
This $8,000 award from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund was originally created to help African-American students integrate into formerly segregated schools in the South and to increase their presence in the legal profession.
Any undergraduate student showing financial need, academic achievement and a commitment to public service is eligible to apply.
The award is distributed in $2,000 increments every year contingent upon the student maintaining good academic standing and maintaining scholarship criteria.
The deadline is April 1 annually.
5. Michael Crossland Humanitarian Scholarship
The Golden Key International Honour Society awards its members around the world multiple scholarships, but this $1,000 award is specifically for U.S. students who serve children in need through breaking down barriers in education, sports or assisting families in need.
If you win the scholarship, you’ll also join Michael Crossland and his organization, Frontier Project, on an all-expenses paid humanitarian trip to Haiti.
The deadline is annually in April.
6. The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes
Each year the Barron Prize honors 15 young leaders, ages 8 to 18, who’ve made a significant positive impact to people and the environment.
Students must reside in the U.S. or Canada and be currently working on an inspiring service project, or have done so in the most recent 12 months to be eligible for this $5,000 award
The deadline is April 15 each year.
7. Caring Award
The Caring Institute, a nonprofit inspired by the legacy of Mother Teresa, awards five high-school students a $2,000 scholarship and honors them at its annual Caring Awards Gala.
Students must be nominated before they turn 18 or before they graduate from high school.
The deadline is in April annually.
8. Chely Wright LIKEME Scholarship
LIKEME is an organization that provides resources for LGBT teens and their communities. This $500 award is open to graduating high school seniors who’ve advocated for LGBT issues through community service and who demonstrate a commitment to the future of the LGBT community.
Thirteen scholarships were awarded in 2016, and the organization looks forward to expanding that number in the future.
The deadline is May 31 annually.
9. Bonner Scholars Program
Students with demonstrated financial need can apply for the Bonner Scholars program. The program meets each student’s full documented financial need for serving 10 hours of community service per week during the academic year and 280 total hours in the summer over their four years as an undergraduate student.
The award is available for students attending one of the Bonner Scholar partner colleges or universities across the U.S.
Admission is rolling and applications must be filled out directly at the student’s selected campus program.
10. Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
U.S. students in grades 5-12 who have participated in community service in the most recent 12 months are eligible to receive a Spirit of Community Award from Prudential.
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.
The deadline is in November annually.
11. AXA Achievement Community Award
Every AXA financial advisor branch distributes up to 12 $2,500 scholarships every year to high school seniors with outstanding achievement in school, community service or work-related activities.
Special consideration is given to students who participate in activities related to reducing financial, environmental, health or safety risks, as well as emergency preparedness.
The deadline is in December annually, or until 10,000 applications are received.
12. Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship
One student from every school can be nominated by their principal for this $1,000 scholarship for students who show a strong commitment to and involvement in community service, leadership and academics. There are also higher levels of scholarships for eligible winners.
Since the inception of the program in 2000, more than $26 million has been awarded to more than 25,000 students.
The deadline is in December annually.
Jen Smith is a writing intern at The Penny Hoarder and the blogger behind Saving with Spunk. She was the president of her community service club in high school. 🤓