American Atheists celebrates student activism by awarding scholarships to students who demonstrate atheist activism in their communities and schools.

The application period for the 2019 Student Activism Scholarships closed on March 15, 2019. Winners will be announced shortly.

What are the Student Activist Scholarships?

American Atheists awards the $1,000 O’Hair Scholarship and four $500 President’s Scholarships to atheist students attending graduate, law, college, university, or vocational school in the United States; you do not have to be a U.S. citizen to be awarded the scholarship, but you do have to attend a U.S.-based institution. The Student Activist Scholarship program was founded by Life Members Barbara J. Baldock, Dr. Phillip Butler, Lillian B. Ramsden, Rice O’Dell, and Irving Yablon.

American Atheists is proud to also award two $500 Chinn Scholarships for LGBT Atheist Activism. These scholarships recognize atheist activism in the area of LGBT equality. You do not have to be a member of the LGBTQ community to receive this scholarship; allies are welcome to apply.

Who can enter?

The scholarships can be used by current college or vocational students or by high school students entering college the upcoming year. Additionally, full-time graduate and law school students are eligible for the scholarships. Applicants for all awards must be atheists and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 (in academic subjects) or better. Applicants are judged based on their actions as atheists and activists. Applicants of all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations are encouraged to apply.

You do not have to be a member of American Atheists to apply for a scholarship, but you do have to be a member to accept a scholarship if you win. All applicants are offered a free one-year membership to American Atheists.

Scholarship Application

Each year, American Atheists awards scholarships to recognize student activism: two $1,000 O’Hair Scholarships, four $500 President’s Scholarships, and two $500 Chinn Scholarships for LGBT Atheist Activism. The 2019 Scholarship Application is available for download here. Winners will be announced after the application deadline of March 15, 2019.

How are recipients chosen?

American Atheists is an organization of activists, so our scholarships are awarded based on activism. Qualified applicants must submit an application form and any and all information or evidence they have of their activism for the previous year. Examples include:

  • Letters printed in newspapers.
  • Letters to politicians about key issues with the replies from those politicians.
  • Letters of testimonials from teachers, friends, or other activists.
  • Evidence that you sponsor an atheist podcast, blog, etc.
  • Student essays.
  • Photos.

While all activism is important and considered, special attention is given to those students who show activism specifically in their schools, such as starting an atheist group or fighting against violations of the separation of religion and government within their school.

Please summarize your activism in a 500- to 1,000-word essay. Detail your activities, motivations, and the importance of atheist activism. Please note that merely writing an essay will not win you a scholarship. This is about activism, and your essay should be about your activism for the cause of atheist civil liberties, the separation of religion and government, or presenting a positive view of atheism to the general public and your fellow students and faculty.

How to Enter

Submit the scholarship application, supporting materials, and a 500- to 1000-word essay to [email protected] by 11:59 pm (ET) on March 15, 2019 for consideration. Applications received after the deadline will not be accepted. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please submit all materials as attachments (PDFs are preferred, Microsoft Word documents are acceptable) to your email. Your application essay should not be included in the body text of the email.

All files should include your first and last name in the file name. For example: JessicaExample-Application.pdf, JessicaExample-Essay.doc, JessicaExample-Transcript.pdf

Photos and scans should be of appropriate resolution and size.

Applications submitted through other channels will not be accepted.

Who decides the winners?

The winners will be chosen by the leadership of American Atheists and/or the delegates they choose who are employees and/or officers of American Atheists.

A scoring rubric is used to identify and assign points for evidence of activism as outlined above. American Atheists reserves the right to choose the recipients of the scholarships as we see fit. We also reserve the right to withdraw the scholarships after they are announced but before they are paid if we see substantial evidence of conduct which would reflect poorly on American Atheists or the atheist community as a whole. A runner-up may also be chosen in case the winners are deemed no longer worthy.