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This article was originally published on USA Today College, written by Jon Fortenbury, and was republished here with permission.


When you give back to your community, sometimes your community gives back to you.

That can be merely a “thank you” or something more tangible, like a paycheck. And while no one should help solely for what they may get in return, it sure is nice to be recognized for your efforts, especially when that recognition comes in the form of a scholarship.

Here are four scholarships for students involved in community service.

 1. Alliant Energy Community Service Scholarship

Leaders: this one’s for you. The Alliant Energy Community Service Scholarship is a $1,000 scholarship given to 25 students each year who served in leadership roles in volunteer work or community service activities.

Applicants must be 24 and under, a dependent child of a current Alliant Energy customer (or a current customer themselves),  have a GPA of at least a 2.50, reside in Alliant Energy territory (which is in the midwest) and be enrolling for the first time as a full-time college student at a two-year or four-year college or a vocational school. The application also requires submitting standardized test scores and a 300-word essay. The deadline is in February of each year. So you’ve got time to start leading and winning.


If you’ve done a good deal of volunteering in the last year, then there’s no good reason not to apply for this award. With a deadline of Nov. 4th, the Prudential Spirit of Community Award is for students in grades 5-12 who are U.S. residents (there are separate scholarships for students in other countries) and have engaged in volunteer activity in the last year. Students have to submit their applications to their school principals or the head of the approved organization they got the application from (such as the Girl Scouts of YMCA) — who certifies it. There are several awards:

  • Local honorees win a certificate of achievement from their schools or organizations.
  • The President’s Volunteer Service Award goes to students 14 or younger who have completed 50 hours of community service or students over 14 who have completed 100 hours of community service.
  • State Honorees win $1,000, a silver medal and a funded trip with their parents or guardians to Washington D.C. to be nationally recognized.
  • National Honorees win $5,000, a gold medal, a crystal trophy for their schools or organizations and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation that they put toward a charitable organization or non-profit of their choosing.

Applications are available online or through your school or participating organization. Totally worth applying to if you fit the criteria.


If you know an adult who thinks you’ve made a positive impact on the community or environment, you could win some serious money. The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes is a nomination-based scholarship, where adults nominate people aged 8-18 who have done excellent work in the community or environment. You must be a United States or Canadian resident, have done your noteworthy work within the year prior to the application, and the adult must submit the application by the end of the business day on April 15th of each year. Winners receive $5,000 toward their higher education. The key here is asking someone to nominate you who knows about the work you’ve done and can speak in some detail about it.


It pays to be an achiever. In this case, it pays worthy recipients thousands of dollars. AXA, in association with U.S. News & World Report, offers the AXA Achievement Scholarship each year to 52 U.S. high school seniors who are planning to enroll full-time in college the following fall. You have to “demonstrate ambition and self-drive as evidenced by outstanding achievement in school, community or work-related activities,” according to the website, with special consideration given to “achievements that empower society to better face risk through education and action in areas such as financial, environmental, health and/or emergency-preparedness.”

Fifty-two winners (one from each state, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico) win a one-time scholarship award of $10,000 each. Of those 52, 10 are selected for an additional one-time $15,000 scholarship award, meaning they earn $25,000 total. The application opens in the early fall, with winners announced in the spring. While the scholarship is not only for those involved in community service, recipients can still win upwards of $25,000 for their participation in community service. That should chip away a nice chunk of the college tuition bill.

Winning these scholarships is really a win-win for everyone. Your community wins, by improving through your participation. And you win, by scoring some serious funding toward college.

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