Steven R. Nelson Native Educator Scholarship

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 history. These partnerships reflect one of the core values of our organization, equity, and guide us toward our vision of an excellent and equitable education for all. 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 is part of this commitment. This scholarship 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 an advanced degree in education, education policy, leadership, technical assistance, research, or a closely related field. We view this scholarship 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 scholarship honors his work by providing selected students with as many as two years of annually renewable scholarships. Awardees will receive a maximum of $3,000 each year, and we will award as many as five scholarships per year.

Eligibility Requirements

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; a member or descendent of an Alaska Native village, council, or corporation; a Native Hawaiian; or 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 or doctoral program (by fall term) in an accredited institution of higher education, either in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington for on-campus programs or in an accredited online institution in the United States. For online programs, the degree area must also be accredited according to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) accreditation database. Additionally, maintain a course load that allows for timely completion of the graduate degree (within three years for a master's degree).
  • Pursue a field of study in education, education policy, leadership, technical assistance, research, or a closely related field.
  • Have graduated from a four-year, regionally accredited institution of higher learning (before fall term).
  • Complete an essay that answers the questions:
    1. Why am I pursuing an advanced degree in the field of education, education policy, leadership, technical assistance, research, or closely related field?
    2. What are my post-graduation goals?
    3. 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 until March 31. No applications will be considered after the 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 two years)

More Information

For further information please email Gloria Cruz.