How competitive is scholarship funding? What do you look for in scholarship candidates?


We do our best to provide funding to all deserving candidates. In general, motivated students that can clearly articulate a passion for sustainability and the potential to become an environmental leader will receive a funding award. We want to see nuance and an understanding of important environmental concepts communicated in your application. Most of all, we want you to draw a clear line between the Sustainable Summer program and your goals. Be specific and be sure your references can back up your ambitions and potential. If your application is solid and your financial need isn’t “extreme,” it is likely that you will receive funding for a program. We aren’t always able to place students on their first choice program, but it is rare that a strong applicant is denied a scholarship outright. We do receive many more “qualified” applications for scholarships for our Leadership Academies than for our global Leadership Expeditions. We receive lots of scholarship applications for those programs, too, but many of them are not what we would consider very strong applications because the applicant too often is interested simply in traveling to another country and does not clearly articulate a genuine interest in sustainability. However, for our Leadership Academies, we typically have a much more competitive scholarship applicant pool and have to make harder choices about scholarship awards or ask students to consider a different session instead of their top choice.

Be sure to articulate clearly and concisely how Sustainable Summer will benefit you keeping in mind that competitive candidates for scholarships will possess all of the following:

  • A demonstrated personal commitment to and interest in achieving environmental sustainability
  • Outstanding academic and extracurricular achievement (or unique experience related to environmental sustainability)
  • An application that articulates how Sustainable Summer will benefit the participant and help him or her become a future sustainability leader
  • Letters of recommendation that underscore all of the above
  • Clear financial need

Preference for our financial assistance awards is given to students with outstanding academic and extracurricular achievement, and a demonstrated commitment to achieving environmental sustainability, who have a clear financial need that can be met by the limitations of our financial assistance program. Scholarships are not granted on merit alone; only those students who could not attend a program without financial assistance will be awarded scholarship funds. (NOTE: We cannot fund requests for 100% of tuition in aid and it is expected that all financial assistance applicants will make a family contribution of 15 – 50% of the tuition, fundraise their family’s tuition responsibility, or a combination thereof.)