Ron Brown Scholar Program

$10,000–$40,000Award Amount
45Number of Awards
1/9/2023Submission Deadline

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Ron Brown was the first African American to serve in the cabinet as the Secretary of Commerce. After his tragic passing, the Ron Brown scholarship fund was created in 1996 to honor his memory, milestone, and a lifelong passion for public service.

The fund doesn’t just award extremely talented African American students with $40,000—it also gives them service opportunities and leadership experience. Students receive $10,000 a year for up to four years while they pursue their degrees.

Only current high school seniors may apply. From the pool of applicants, a group of semi-finalists will be chosen to attend the selection weekend. At the end of this weekend, the finalists will be chosen.

Key Information of Ron Brown Scholar Program

Study Details

Area of Study


Country of Study

United States

Specific Schools


Scholarship Details

Intended Level of Study


Award Amount


Number of Awards


Ron Brown Scholar Program Timeline

August 2022

Applications open

Applications open in August each year.

January 9, 2023

Submission Deadline

Completed applications and supporting documents must be submitted. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

February 2023

Applications reviewed

Applications are reviewed from November to February to select the semifinalists.

March 2023

Selection weekend

Semifinalists are invited to selection weekend, at the end of which the finalists are selected.

Scholarship Eligibility

To be eligible to apply, applicants must meet the following criteria.

  • Eligible Grade: High School Senior
  • Maximum Age: Any
  • Required GPA: Any
  • Geographic Eligibility: United States
  • Gender: Any
  • Race/Ethnicity: Black

Application Requirements

Here’s what you need to submits besides your application.

  • Financial Information
  • Grade transcript
  • Recommendation letters
  • Standardized Test Scores
  • Essay

How to ace the Ron Brown Scholar Program


Retake the SAT or ACT

In a fierce competition, low ACT or SAT scores are almost an automatic disqualifier. Even if your scores are acceptable, retaking the tests will allow you to stand out in a contest almost solely based on academics.


Emphasize public service

The application asks you to list your school activities in order of importance. Since this scholarship honors the legacy of a public leader who was deeply invested in helping others, you should prioritize community service activities. Among these activities, list ones in which you had a formal position at the top—it looks more impressive to seasoned judges.


Workshop both your essays

Since the second essay has no prompt, it's tempting to submit an essay you've already written without looking it over. However, you should show the essay to several people and take their feedback into account to achieve your best possible work, even if you've gotten revisions on it already.


Highlight how this scholarship will help you

This scholarship program is specifically for students who come from low-income families. Use your essay to highlight how winning the award will greatly impact your future by allowing you to attend college or university. Outlining a specific plan you have for your future that includes obtaining a postsecondary education will also give you a leg up in the selection process.

How the Ron Brown Scholar Program is Judged

Scholars who display strong leadership skills, who perform well academically, and actively work to improve their communities are ideal Ron Brown Scholars. While there is no minimum ACT or SAT score needed, students with better scores will be preferred as academic performance is a core scholar trait. Financial need is also important. The program is designed to offer extra aid on top of other funding.

Why We Love the Ron Brown Scholar Program


It's not just a scholarship

The Ron Brown Scholars receive continued support throughout their college careers along with mentoring and public service opportunities. You don't just get help paying for college—you get help succeeding in your academic years and beyond.


You only have to write one essay

Although there are two writing prompts, one is designed for you to submit an essay you've already written for your college application. This cuts the application work in half.


It showcases your academics

If you're a strong student, this is your scholarship. Teacher recommendations, SAT or ACT scores, and grades are all required—and these are all several fronts on which you can clearly demonstrate a track record of academic achievement.

5 Facts About Ron Brown Scholars


There are 534 Ron Brown Scholars

That's an average of 45 new scholars per year!


$16.6 million has been awarded

And the program has only been around for 24 years.


Four scholars were Rhodes finalists

The Rhodes program is one of the most competitive fellowship programs in America.


Two scholars were Harvard valedictorians

That's out of a class size of nearly 2,000.


The number of scholars has increased

In 2016, 28 were chosen—but 49 were awarded in 2022.

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