Davis-Putter Scholarship: Win $10,000 for College
Scholarships present students with a great way to lower the expense of higher education. Awarded to students for a wide variety of reasons ranging from where a student resides to what high school they attended or what major they’re pursuing, scholarships provide funding for college that a student does not have to pay back, unlike loans. One such scholarship which might interest students active in the progressive movement for social and economic justice is the Davis-Putter Scholarship.
History of the Davis-Putter Scholarship
The Davis-Putter Scholarship was first established in 1961 by Horace “Hockey” Davis as the Marian Davis Scholarship Fund to memorialize his wife Marian—a beloved teacher and advocate for racial justice and labor rights who was persecuted for her work. Hockey himself was also an activist; a descendant of abolitionists and feminists, he wrote extensively on labor history and socialist theory, teaching at a number of universities before McCarthy-era politics drove him and Marian south where they began teaching at historically black colleges.
Norton S. Putter was a generous donor of time and resources to the Marian Davis Scholarship Fund. Putter was born in Poland, coming to the U.S. to escape poverty and anti-semitism. A life-long member of the NAACP, Putter was also a fixture in progressive politics in Syracuse, New York. With Putter’s passing in 2000, not long after Hockey’s death in 1999, the fund now remembers the lives of Marian, Hockey, and Putter and their commitment to peace and justice with the Davis-Putter Scholarship.
Awarding the Davis-Putter Scholarship
Since 1961, more than 1,200 students representing the spirit and commitment to peace and justice that Marian, Hockey, and Putter exemplified during their lives have been awarded a scholarship. The maximum grant awarded is $15,000, but may be smaller depending on both the applicant’s need and the amount of money available in the fund, which is supported entirely by the contributions of individual donors.
Davis-Putter Scholarship Applicant Requirements
To be considered for a Davis-Putter Scholarship, applicants need to be active in movements for social and economic justice. Put simply, activism is the most important requirement for a successful application. Early recipients of the award worked in civil rights, against McCarthyism, and toward peace in Vietnam; more recent grantees have been active in the struggles against racism, sexism, and homophobia.
To be considered for a scholarship, students must be matriculated at a college or university or enrolled in a trade or technical program. Additionally, applicants must be involved in activities working for social and economic justice with favor shown to applicants who are planning on working in the U.S.
Davis-Putter Scholarship Application Requirements
Transcript: Transcripts for all prior and current enrollment in academic institutions is required for consideration.
Essay: A vital part of the application, students are required to submit an approximately 1,000-word personal statement detailing their involvement and experience with progressive social activity, the major groups they’ve been active with, and the dates of their involvement. Students should also write about their future goals and concerns and how their studies will benefit movements for social change.
In addition to the essay, students are allowed to upload writing, clippings, and other documents related to their activism that they think will be useful in assessing their application.
Letters of Recommendation: Applicants must submit letters from two individuals familiar with their activism. These individuals could be school faculty, advisors, activists, organizational leaders, and politicians.
Financial Need: Because Davis-Potter Scholarships are awarded based on need, it’s necessary for students to share their financial information. Students must include a copy of their Student Aid Report (SAR). It’s also mandatory for students to share information about their family’s assets. Additionally, applicants need to provide their living expenses for 12 months.
Deadline: Applications for the Davis-Putter scholarship are required to be submitted by April 1. Applicants can expect to be informed of the fund’s decisions in July.
Scholarship Application Tips
Read up on Past Winners: The Davis-Putter Scholarship maintains a list of past recipients of the award along with short bios. Reading up on the type of work past winners have done will help you to get a good sense of what a successful applicant looks like. Furthermore, the result of their activism is that many past awardees of the Davis-Putter Scholarship have fairly public profiles and should be easily contacted via social media or email. Don’t be afraid to connect with them to talk about their work, if you feel so inclined! If a past winner is willing to help, ask them for as much support as they’re prepared to give.
Meet with an Expert: Find someone at your school familiar with applying for college scholarships that can help guide you along the application process, such as your guidance counselor or a trusted teacher.
Build a Resume: Educate, agitate, organize are the calling cards of the Davis-Putter Scholarship and illustrate the actions the fund looks for in applicants interested in creating a future of peace, justice, and freedom. Writing a blog or op-ed for a local paper tackling an important problem, founding a student group focused on solving a social issue, or joining an established organization that’s aligned with a student’s beliefs are a few simple ways to begin building a resume.
Stand Out from the Crowd: The required personal essay provides applicants an incredible opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Applicants should research the fund, check on its latest news, and write about how their beliefs and actions mesh with the Davis-Putter Scholarship’s core values. Additionally, providing any substantive supplements, such as clippings, can help distinguish your work even further.
Proofread: Nothing will sink a scholarship application faster than sloppy writing. Applicants should craft an essay that flows smoothly and is free of any spelling and grammatical errors. Before submitting their essay, applicants should have a trusted—and grammatically inclined—parent, teacher, or counselor proofread their work.
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