Steven R. Nelson Native Educator Scholarship Program

Native American student reading a book outsite

Supporting Native Graduate Students in Education

Education Northwest has had the honor of working with many Native educators, students, families, and community members throughout our 51-year history. These partnerships reflect a core value of our organization—the desire to address inequities within our education system and to ensure that all children and youth have the opportunity to reach their full potential. We believe that healthy Native communities are essential to the health and well-being of our region, and we remain committed to this effort.

The Steven R. Nelson Native Educator Scholarship Program is part of this commitment. This scholarship program strives to increase Native representation in the field of education by providing financial support, mentoring, and internships for Native students in the Northwest who are pursuing a master’s degree in education policy, leadership, technical assistance, research, or a closely related field. We view this program as an opportunity to create long-term partnerships that will improve our ability to meet the needs of Native communities.

Our former colleague, Steve Nelson, dedicated his career to working with tribes, communities, and schools to improve American Indian students’ success in academics and in life. This program honors his work by providing selected students with as many as three years of annually renewable scholarships. Awardees will receive a maximum of $5,000 each year, and we will award as many as five scholarships per year—one for a resident of each state in our primary service region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington.

Eligibility Requirements

Individuals need to:

  • 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 U.S.-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 closely related field.
  • Have graduated from a four-year, regionally accredited institution of higher learning.
  • Complete an essay that answers the questions:
    • Why am I pursuing a master’s degree in the field of education policy, leadership, technical assistance, research, or closely related field?
    • What are my post-graduation goals?
    • How have I and will I contribute to strengthening my own community and/or 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 November 30 to March 31. No applications will be considered after the March 31 deadline.

Recipients will be notified of conditional awards no later than June 30, for study beginning 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 Benefits of the Program

  • Awardees will have the opportunity to work with an Education Northwest mentor both during and after the program.
  • Awardees may also pursue a paid internship with Education Northwest, either at our home office in Portland, Oregon, or in the awardees current residence/location.

Contact Us

Thank you for your interest in the Steven R. Nelson Scholarship Program! If you have any questions or would like additional information, we encourage you to reach out to us at:

Nelson Scholarship Administrator
c/o Human Resources, Education Northwest
101 SW Main Street, Suite 500
Portland, OR 97204