Steven R. Nelson Native Educator Scholarship Program

Native American student reading a book outsite

Making a Difference for Native Graduate Students in Education

The Steven R. Nelson Native Educator Scholarship Program seeks to increase the number of Alaska Native, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students who pursue graduate degrees that will qualify them for careers in education policy, leadership, technical assistance, or research in the Northwest region.

Since 1966, Education Northwest—a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization headquartered in Portland, Oregon—has provided services to support better educational outcomes for Alaska Native, American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students. In order to strengthen our efforts, the organization’s board created the Steven R. Nelson Native Educator Scholarship Program. The scholarship is named in honor of a retired leader at Education Northwest whose 40-year career was dedicated to working with tribes, communities, schools, and districts to improve Native and rural students’ academic and life success.

The program provides selected students with as many as three years of annually renewable scholarships. Awardees will receive a maximum of $5,000 each year to pursue a master’s degree in education policy, leadership, technical assistance, research, or a related field. As many as five scholarships per year will be awarded—one for a resident of each state in the organization’s primary service region (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington).

Eligibility Requirements

To apply, individuals must:

  • Reside in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington
  • Be a member or descendent of a federally recognized, state recognized, or terminated American Indian tribe; or Alaska Native village, council, or corporation; or Native Hawaiian; or identify as a Pacific Islander from a United States– affiliated Pacific Island jurisdiction (specifically, American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, or Palau)
  • Be accepted to or enrolled in a master’s program in an accredited, public or private, nonprofit institution of higher education in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington and maintain a course load that ensures graduate degree completion within three years
  • Pursue a field of study in education policy, leadership, technical assistance, research, or a related field
  • Have graduated from a 4-year, regionally accredited institution of higher learning
  • Complete an essay highlighting his/her reasons for pursuing graduate education and describing postgraduation goals, particularly related to contributing to strengthening his/her own community and rural or Native communities as a whole
  • Submit three letters of recommendation (excluding letters from immediate family members), with at least one from a community member who can attest to the candidate’s Native heritage and his/her commitment to the designated course of study and to serving rural and/or Native communities after attainment of the master’s degree
  • Begin school as a full- or part-time student no later than the fall semester immediately following the award

Application Procedures

Applications for the Steven R. Nelson Native Educator Scholarship can be submitted annually from September 30 to December 31. No applications will be considered after the December 31.

Recipients will be notified of conditional awards no later than March 31, for study beginning in the following fall term. Final awards will be made directly to the institution of higher education once an awardee has provided proof of acceptance and/or registration in an institution that meets the scholarship program requirements.

The scholarship program will be administered at the sole discretion of Education Northwest. Award funds will be deposited in the financial aid office of the institution attended by the recipient.

Education Northwest reserves the right to change or discontinue the Steven R. Nelson Native Educator Scholarship Program at any time and without notice.

Procedure for Continuing Awards

To maintain eligibility, a scholarship recipient must meet the following standards:

  • Maintain good academic standing
  • Demonstrate substantial progress toward the fulfillment of the graduate degree requirements
  • Fulfill all program reporting requirements
  • Maintain enrollment status during the academic year
  • Apply each year to request continued scholarship support until graduation (not to exceed three years)

Additional Requirements

  • Awardees must participate in one paid internship at Education Northwest, located in Portland, Oregon, or in an Education Northwest–sponsored field activity during the course of his/her studies or upon completion of the degree
  • Awardees must sign a promissory note committing to apply for a position in education or in education policy, leadership, technical assistance, or research in the Northwest region, preferably serving rural or Native communities, after completing their graduate degree

Questions?

For further information please contact:

Nelson Scholarship Administrator
c/o HR Director, Education Northwest
101 SW Main Street, Suite 500
Portland, OR 97204
NelsonScholarship@educationnorthwest.org