Identity-Based Scholarships for graduate students from underrepresented groups in 2023


Historically, some individuals and groups have been disadvantaged, lacking the access to equal opportunities to pursue graduate education. Identity-based scholarships are aimed at promoting diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunities in graduate education. These scholarships provide support and empowerment for individuals from underrepresented groups, including women, ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals with disabilities.

The importance of Identity-Based Scholarships

  1. Encouraging Representation: By supporting individuals from diverse backgrounds, identity-based scholarships encourage representation in various academic disciplines, fostering a richer and more inclusive learning environment.
  2. Identity-based scholarships help create role models and inspire future generations from underrepresented communities to pursue higher education, breaking down barriers and stereotypes.
  3. Enhancing Perspectives and Experiences: Diverse identities bring unique perspectives and experiences to academic settings, enriching research, discussions, and the overall learning experience for all students.
  4. Strengthening Communities: Identity-based scholarships contribute to the development and empowerment of underrepresented communities, fostering progress and social change.

Eligibility Criteria for Identity-Based Scholarships

The eligibility criteria for identity-based scholarships would typically vary depending on the specific scholarship program. However, the following factors are commonly considered:

  • Identity: Applicants must identify with the underrepresented group specified by the scholarship program, which may include women, racial or ethnic minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, or individuals with disabilities.
  • Academic Achievement: Applicants are typically expected to demonstrate strong academic performance, as evidenced by grades, test scores, and academic honors or awards.
  • Leadership and Community Involvement: Many identity-based scholarships value applicants’ involvement in leadership roles, community service, advocacy, or initiatives that contribute to the advancement of their respective communities.
  • Personal Statement: Applicants often need to submit a personal statement or essay highlighting their experiences, challenges, and aspirations, discussing how they have overcome obstacles and their potential impact on their field of study or community.
  • Recommendations: Letters of recommendation from teachers, mentors, or community leaders who can attest to the applicant’s character, achievements, and potential are commonly required.

Top 5 Identity-Based Scholarships

  1. The Ford Foundation Scholarship: The Ford Foundation Scholarship was established in 1962 by the Ford Foundation, one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the world that seeks to address social justice issues and promote positive change globally. The scholarship program was created with the goal of increasing diversity and representation in academia and research. It aims to support individuals who come from backgrounds including racial and ethnic minorities, women, and individuals with disabilities that have been historically marginalized or underrepresented.
  2. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Fellowships: this is a prestigious award offered by the AAUW, a leading organization dedicated to advancing gender equity through education, advocacy, and research. These fellowships support women and underrepresented individuals pursuing graduate education and research across various disciplines. The organization was founded in 1881 to promote educational opportunities and equality for women. The AAUW Fellowships were established to provide financial assistance to women pursuing higher education and to encourage their representation and advancement in academic and professional fields. The fellowships are primarily open to women applicants, including cisgender, transgender, and non-binary individuals.
  3. Point Foundation Scholarships are prestigious awards offered by the Point Foundation, a national LGBTQ+ scholarship fund. The foundation aims to empower LGBTQ+ individuals by providing financial support, mentorship, and leadership development opportunities for their education and career advancement. The Point Foundation was established in 2001 with the mission of empowering LGBTQ+ individuals to achieve their full academic and leadership potential. The foundation recognizes the unique challenges faced by LGBTQ+ students and seeks to provide them with the support and resources needed to succeed in higher education and beyond.
  4. The Disability Rights Scholarship Program: this is a prestigious initiative administered by the Open Society Foundations. The program aims to empower individuals with disabilities to advocate for their rights and pursue higher education in the field of disability rights and advocacy. It was established by the Open Society Foundations to address the barriers faced by individuals with disabilities in accessing education and advocating for their rights. The program recognizes the importance of empowering disabled individuals to become leaders and change-makers in promoting disability rights and inclusion.
  5. The National GEM Consortium (GEM: this is a highly regarded organization that promotes diversity and inclusion in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by providing graduate education and professional development opportunities to underrepresented communities. The National GEM Consortium was founded in 1976 with the goal of increasing the participation of underrepresented groups, particularly African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans, in STEM graduate programs and careers.

GEM program and initiatives include the following:

  • GEM Fellowship Program: The flagship program of the National GEM Consortium, it provides fellows with financial support, mentorship, and access to internships and job opportunities with GEM employer partners.
  • GEM University and Employer Memberships: GEM collaborates with universities and employers to create a network of support for underrepresented students. Member universities provide academic support, mentorship, and resources, while employer partners offer internships, co-op opportunities, and full-time positions.
  • GEM Associate Fellowship Program: This program supports underrepresented students who plan to pursue a graduate degree but need to strengthen their academic background. Associate Fellows receive a stipend while completing a summer internship at a GEM employer partner.
  • GEM Alumni Association: GEM fosters a strong alumni network that provides ongoing support, networking opportunities, and professional development for former GEM fellows.
Tips for Identity-Based Scholarships Applicants
  1. Research: Explore scholarship opportunities targeted towards specific underrepresented groups through online databases, university websites, professional associations, and community organizations.
  2. Eligibility Check: Review the eligibility criteria for each scholarship to ensure that you meet the specified identity-based requirements.
  3. Application Materials: Prepare the necessary application materials, including a personal statement or essay that highlights your experiences, challenges, achievements, and aspirations. Include any requested supporting documents, such as academic transcripts and letters of recommendation.
  4. Community Involvement: Highlight your involvement in leadership roles, community service, or advocacy efforts that align with the scholarship program’s objectives.
  5. Deadlines: Pay close attentions to application deadlines and submit your application well before the specified date.
  6. Seek Support: Seek guidance from mentors, advisors, or individuals who have successfully applied for identity-based scholarships. They can provide insights, advice, and help refine your application materials.
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