The CUSEF Young Leaders Scholarship program empowers talented students from diverse backgrounds across the U.S. and Canada to become catalysts for change through civic engagement and global leadership. For 2024, CUSEF is proud to offer opportunities for outstanding college students and recent graduates to receive up to $10,000 in funding and resources to advance their work and leadership in civic participation, public service, or global affairs. Let’s take a closer look at what this prestigious scholarship entails.
To be eligible for the CUSEF Young Leaders Scholarship, applicants must meet the following criteria:
- Be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States or Canada
- Be currently enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student at an accredited four-year college/university in the U.S. or Canada
- Be a graduating college senior or have graduated within the last 12 months by the deadline
- Demonstrate leadership potential through campus and community involvement
- Have a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (or equivalent)
- Pursue studies, careers, or projects related to civic participation, public service, or global affairs
- Not have received prior funding from CUSEF
The program is open to all eligible students regardless of race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or other attributes. First-generation students, students of color, and students from underrepresented or underserved communities are especially encouraged to apply.
CUSEF Young Leaders Scholarship recipients receive the following support:
- $5,000 – $10,000 award to advance a capstone project related to leadership, civic engagement, or global affairs
- Mentorship and guidance from CUSEF and partner leaders
- Networking and professional development opportunities
- Exposure through CUSEF publications and events
- Opportunity to join a community of emerging leaders committed to positive social change
Funds may be used for education-related expenses such as tuition, books, fees, room & board, or capstone project costs like travel, materials, or equipment. Awards are disbursed in two installments to ensure progress and appropriate use of funds.
Application Process and Deadlines
Applying for the CUSEF Young Leaders Scholarship is a multi-step process:
- Complete the online application by January 15, 2024. This includes personal and academic information as well as short essay responses.
- Submit official transcripts and two letters of recommendation by the deadline. Letters should ideally be from faculty members or supervisors familiar with applicant’s academic and leadership abilities.
- Finalists will be invited to interview in person or by video in late February/early March 2024. Interviews allow candidates to further discuss their experiences, qualifications, and proposed capstone project plans.
- scholarship recipients will be notified by mid-March 2024. Awardees must then submit a detailed capstone proposal and agree to program participation requirements.
- Projects are implemented over the course of 12 months, with progress reports, networking engagements, and a final presentation expected. Recipients may reapply for an additional year of support if mutually agreed upon.
The scholarship application and all required documents must be received by January 15, 2024 to be considered for the 2024-2025 award cycle. Late or incomplete submissions will not be reviewed.
Capstone Project Ideas
A key component of the CUSEF Young Leaders Scholarship is the proposed capstone project that recipients will conduct over the award period to address an issue of civic, social, or global relevance. Example project ideas may include:
- Developing and leading a campus voter registration/civic engagement drive
- Planning an educational conference on diversity, inclusion, or social justice issues
- Creating educational materials or hosting skill-building workshops for youth
- Conducting research and publishing reports on policy topics like the environment, healthcare, education, or human rights
- Developing a nonprofit or social enterprise focused on serving an underrepresented community
- Designing and implementing an international service learning trip or cross-cultural exchange program
- Curating an art exhibit, documentary film, or public awareness campaign on global issues
The proposed project should be innovative, impactful, and allow the candidate to expand their leadership abilities while benefitting others. Mentors can help refine ambitious ideas into realistic yet meaningful plans of action.
Tips for Strong Applications
To maximize their chances of being selected, applicants should keep the following tips in mind when crafting their CUSEF Young Leaders Scholarship submissions:
- Clearly demonstrate how you meet all eligibility criteria through academic transcripts and resume details
- Highlight specific relevant extracurricular activities, honors, or work experiences on your campus and in your community
- Convey a clear passion for and commitment to civic participation, public service, or global affairs in essays
- Propose an original, well-thought-out capstone project aligned with program goals and your interests/skills
- Request thoughtful, insightful recommendation letters from mentors who can attest to your character and potential
- Proofread all materials for spelling/grammatical errors and consistent formatting
- Customize your resume and essays for each scholarship instead of using generic templates
- Interview preparation such as practice responses to common questions can help make a great impression
- Check application status and meet all deadlines, as incomplete or late submissions cannot be reviewed
Following these expert tips will help applicants put their best foot forward and clearly communicate why they deserve to be chosen for this prestigious opportunity. Selection is highly competitive, so creative, polished applications are key.
Frequently Asked Questions
CUSEF receives many common inquiries about the Young Leaders Scholarship program each year. Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
Q: Can international students apply?
A: No, the scholarship is only open to U.S. and Canadian citizens and permanent residents due to funding constraints.
Q: What majors are preferred or excluded?
A: All majors are welcome to apply as long as the proposed project relates to civic participation, public service, or global affairs. Technical fields like STEM are encouraged to apply their skills to these realms.
Q: Is community college experience eligible?
A: Applicants must be attending or have graduated from a four-year accredited college/university. However, community college credits may count toward eligibility if transferred to a four-year program.
Q: What if I need an extension on my capstone timeline?
A: Recipients must submit periodic progress reports and are expected to complete projects within one year. However, reasonable extensions may be granted on a case-by-case basis for delays outside an individual’s control.
Q: Are previous internships or volunteer work considered leadership experience?
Yes, meaningful past activities that demonstrate the growth of initiative, responsibility, and skills count toward demonstrating leadership potential.
For any other questions not covered here, applicants are encouraged to contact the CUSEF Young Leaders team prior to the application deadline for assistance. Highly competitive applicants should begin the process early and allow time for mentor feedback or revisions.
The CUSEF Young Leaders Scholarship represents an exceptional opportunity for passionate college students and recent graduates to advance their leadership abilities and make a positive impact. With up to $10,000 in resources and support over 12 months, recipients can turn ambitious capstone ideas into reality to address important civic, social, and global challenges. Meeting all eligibility requirements and crafting a strong application focused on relevant experiences, qualifications, and proposed projects is key. Those selected will join an esteemed cohort of emerging changemakers and gain lifelong benefits from the program experience. CUSEF’s deadline of January 15th, 2024 is fast approaching, so eligible candidates should start preparing their submissions without delay. With dedication and determination, the CUSEF Young Leaders Scholarship could be the catalyst to help turn aspirations into meaningful action and launch careers of consequence.