While not all celebrities are philanthropic with their mega-money, more and more are giving back to communities and colleges in the form of their unpublicized unknown celebrity scholarships. Many celebrities leap into stardom with seeming ease, but it is rare to find a celebrity that does not see the value in higher education – even if they did not complete it themselves. One of the most positive things about these celebrity sponsored scholarships and the celebrities themselves is that they often have some non-traditional qualities.
The David Letterman Scholarship mirrors Letterman’s educational experiences and his own talents. Letterman seeks to help average academic students who show great talent and creativity in the media project they submit with the application. Creativity in the telecommunications or radio and television area is the main qualification for eligibility for this celebrity scholarship to his alma mater, Ball State University in Indiana. As such, grades are surprisingly NOT a consideration for applicants. Individuals must be first-quarter juniors through first-quarter seniors to apply for one of the three celebrity scholarships of varying monetary amounts. The winner of the Letterman scholarship receives $10,000, while the first and second runners-up receive $5,000 and $3,333 respectively. The deadline for applications to be received by Ball State is March 1st of each year.
Alec Baldwin was a 1994 graduate of the Tisch School for the Arts, a part of New York University and he is giving back to students of the university with a gift of $1 million to be used for his celebrity college scholarships for students in the Drama Department. Students must obviously be talented, but Baldwin seeks to assist those who are also dedicated team players who demonstrate leadership skills and the ability to grow from risk and constructive criticism. Need and will be a major consideration, as part of the gift also goes to support Tisch’s mission to find “academically and artistically talented students” from any economic background.
While the following celebrities scholarship is not affiliated with a single celebrity, it is endorsed by a team full of sports celebrities, The Phoenix Suns. The Phoenix Suns Charity has been around since 1987 with the goal to use the resources of the basketball team to assist the needs of children in Arizona. In honor of many of the Suns’ athletes, eligibility includes excellence in academics which shows dedication and persistence, as well as community involvement which indicates empathy and an awareness of others besides oneself. All of this is indicative of values and strengths important to the team. The amount of students who receive one of the $2,000 unknown scholarships varies from year to year, but in addition to these, one outstanding student receives the Kevin Johnson Scholar Award of $5,000. The deadline for application is typically in late January for the upcoming school year.
The Gates Millennium Scholars Program benefits an enormous amount of students. Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 1,000 students will receive a celebrity scholarship for any college or university from entrance until degree completion. This means students can continue from undergraduate through doctoral programs with assistance from this celebrity sponsored scholarship. Not only do recipients receive monetary help from the scholarship, but academic, professional and personal support is also provided so students are able to make the most of their potential and college experience. The GMSP targets minority students who show academic and leadership potential as well as community service. Applications are due in early January and recipients are notified by May 1.
Jerry Seinfeld is yet another celebrity who offers his celebrity scholarship boasting his name, The Seinfeld Scholarship. Seinfeld honors his roots by providing four-year unknown scholarships to students graduating from any of New York’s public schools. Every year scholarships are awarded to students from a different borough of New York City; it rotates yearly from borough to borough. The 2011 scholarship is being awarded to a student graduating in June from a public high school in Queens. The online application is typically available in December for the following year. Financial need is, of course, a major determinate for candidacy, but students must also show academic diligence with a GPA above 3.4, creativity, and leadership potential. Up to $10,000 will be paid to help students cover any need associated with higher education: books, tuition, living expenses, etc. Winners may pursue any area of study at a four-year college or university.
The Bill Cosby Scholarship sponsored by one of the funniest people on earth – Bill Cosby a renowned comedian for many years and even today, is administered through Temple University Natural Science’s Department located in Philadelphia, PA awards two $3,500.00 celebrity scholarships. This unknown scholarship award was set up by Bill and his wife in honor of their late son.
The Oprah Winfrey Scholarship Program is not a celebrity scholarship that can be applied to directly from her website. This famous talk show host donates monies to various colleges through her Oprah Winfrey Foundation and the colleges use these monies to make educational awards mostly based on need – financial or otherwise. The donated monies supplement existing college scholarships already in place at the colleges which are directed at ethnic minorities and women. Oprah will try to offer support to women and minorities in financial need looking to attend college and cannot afford to do so. The Oprah Winfrey Foundation is a multi-faceted organization which creatively uses it’s financial resources in many various ways to offer those financial support for those who would have no chance of getting it themselves.
Famous talk show host Jay Leno has his celebrity scholarship and is called the Fred Duesenberg Memorial Scholarship. It’s limited in scope in that a student must be attending McPherson College as a sophmore, junior or senior to be awarded $20,000 given to one student annually. Winners must exhibit superior skills in the area of car restoration at McPherson College.
These are just a few of the scholarships from celebrities and there are many more because it is such a goodwill gesture which every celebrity wants to be a part of.