Keeping the Dream Alive Through MLK Jr. Scholarships


On August 28, 1963, more than 250,000 people converged on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. to hear Martin Luther King, Jr. deliver his now infamous “I Have a Dream’” speech. It is one of the most acclaimed orations in our country’s history, and helped define the American Civil Rights Movement. Unfortunately, five decades later, we are still fighting for equality and acceptance for all, regardless of color, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. Yes, there have been steps in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go. Thankfully, there are many organizations and schools that continue to support Dr. King’s vision, and recognize underrepresented students who have taken the extraordinary step not only to pursue a higher education, but also work toward keeping Dr. King’s dream alive.  Here are just a few of the many wonderful scholarships and programs that promote equality, and help financially support students who embody Dr. King’s values and spirit of inclusion.

1. Mount Baker Community Club

In 1985, a small group of neighbors in Mount Baker (WA) created the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Fund to assist local high school seniors achieve the dream of a higher education. Approximately 15 scholarships, valued at $5,000 each, are provided each year. Deadline: February 7.

Dr. King Scholarships2. California Teachers Association

Active members of the California Teachers Association (CTA), as well as dependent children of active, retired or deceased members, may be eligible for one of several awards through the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund. Scholarships are valued at up to $6,000 each. Deadline: February 21.

3. North Carolina Association of Educators

Established in 1992, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship rewards North Carolina high school seniors who demonstrate character, community involvement, and scholastic achievement. Awards amounts vary annually. Deadline: March 31.

4. City of Oceanside

In 1989, the City of Oceanside (CA) established the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Program to encourage area high school seniors to attend college. Last year, 15 students each received a $2,000 scholarship. This program is not restricted to minority students. Deadline: April (TBA).

5. American Correctional Association

Current undergraduate and graduate students may receive one of several Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship awards offered by the American Correctional Association. Students must be working toward a career in criminal justice and demonstrate commitment to the principles of Dr. King. Deadline: June 1.

MLK Scholar6. MLK Trust Fund

African American high school seniors from New London County (CT) may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 (paid over four years) from the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Trust Fund. Students must demonstrate academic achievement and submit an essay explaining how they will further Dr. King’s dream. Deadline: June 30. Many colleges and universities also offer scholarships to honor Dr. King. For example, Saint Louis University provides incoming freshmen, who meet academic guidelines, with a minimum of $13,000 in funding over four years. There are also several Martin Luther King Scholar Programs offered, such as those provided at New York University and Ithaca College. Students not only receive financial assistance, but also participate in additional academic and leadership opportunities. Of course, no list would be complete without the ‘I Have a Dream’ Scholarship offered by This scholarship is open to any U.S. student who is 13 years or older. Students simply must submit a short essay (250 words or less) that explains their dreams for the future. One lucky dreamer will receive a $1,500 scholarship for college.

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