National Achievement® Scholarship Program

National Achievement Scholarship Program

History

National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC) established the National Achievement® Scholarship Program in 1964, contemporaneously with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, specifically to encourage Black American youth to continue their education. NMSC conducted the privately financed academic competition from 1965 to 2015. The program's defining purposes were to:

  • honor scholastically promising Black American high school students and increase their educational opportunities; and
  • provide National Achievement Scholarships for college undergraduate study to a substantial number of the most outstanding participants in each annual competition.

The National Achievement Scholarship Program was created to increase educational opportunities for academically accomplished Black American students and encourage colleges to broaden their recruiting efforts. The program also strove to encourage academic success among Black Americans of all ages by creating visible role models and providing a goal toward which younger students could work.

In the half century since the National Achievement Scholarship Program was created, more than 4.6 million Black Americans have entered the program, and approximately 228,000 have received program recognition. Of those honored, more than 34,000 of the most outstanding participants were chosen to receive Achievement Scholarship® awards worth about $108 million. Currently, about 2,800 of these young men and women are undergraduates at 300 colleges and universities across the nation.

Transition

With the conclusion of the 2015 program, the National Achievement Scholarship Program transitioned to a new program. In 2016, NMSC forged a new relationship with UNCF, the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. After NMSC has met the financial obligations of all National Achievement Scholarships awarded through the 2015 competition, including four-year awards, it will grant the remaining National Achievement Scholarship Program funds to UNCF, which will carry on the name and legacy of the National Achievement Scholarship Program through the newly designed Achievement Capstone Program. The new program, which will be administered by UNCF and underwritten by NMSC, will honor and award financial assistance to high-achieving, underrepresented college graduates.

Since the National Achievement Scholarship Program funds are being redirected to be used for awards for college graduates, Black American high school students no longer have the opportunity to enter the National Achievement Scholarship Program and compete for Achievement Scholarship awards. However, they can still compete for Merit Scholarship® awards when they enter the National Merit® Scholarship Program, and they may be eligible to receive awards from UNCF once they graduate from college.

High school participation and sponsor support

NMSC is sincerely grateful to educators in high schools across the U.S. who have assisted in providing an opportunity for Black American students to participate in the National Achievement Scholarship Program. NMSC would also like to thank sponsors of National Achievement Scholarships for their support and encourage current sponsors in both the National Merit Program and the National Achievement Program, as well as other corporations, foundations, and business organizations, to support this new, worthwhile endeavor with UNCF.

Legacy

Over the past half century, National Achievement Scholars have made significant contributions to society, and have become astronauts, neurosurgeons, educators, and musicians. They have worked toward the betterment of the United States through service in our military, our classrooms, and the nation's capital. The legacy of the National Achievement Scholarship Program is great, and we at NMSC are proud of its history. We celebrate 51 successful years of the National Achievement Scholarship Program and look forward to our partnership with UNCF to continue this rich legacy.  

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Featured Scholars
Jason C. Silverman
Jason C. Silverman
Jason C. Silverman earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in astronautical engineering from the University of Southern California (USC). As an incoming freshman, he was one of only ten recipients of the Mork Family Scholarship, an internationally competitive, full-tuition award for USC students. He was further honored in both his junior and senior years of college when he was selected as a winner of the prestigious Astronaut Scholarship, an award provided by a foundation created by the Mercury 7 astronauts in order to support U.S. students of science and engineering.
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Kaeli Subberwal
Kaeli Subberwal
Kaeli Subberwal is currently attending the University of Chicago, where she plans to study astrophysics. Kaeli has long been interested in physics and astronomy. In high school, she founded the cosmology club and volunteered with two after-school science clubs for middle school students. She also attended summer science programs: she studied cosmology at Stanford University and physics at Oxford University. Through research and education, Kaeli hopes to expand our scientific knowledge of the universe and increase public interest in astronomy and science.
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Christopher R. Larry
Christopher R. Larry
As a senior in high school, Christopher R. Larry attended an immersive science and engineering program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In his six weeks at Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES), Christopher learned the value of collaborating to solve scientific problems. “This experience taught me that constructive group interaction and working with others, rather than being competitive or independent, is often the best way to achieve a goal,” he says.
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Kathryn DuHadway
Kathryn DuHadway
As a member of a preprofessional ballet company, Kathryn DuHadway spent an average of 17 hours dancing every week in high school. Her extensive involvement in dance forced her to develop excellent discipline and time management. Although ballet practice left her with numerous injuries, Kathryn nonetheless calls dance “invigorating” and her “most cherished hobby.” She says, “Dance has brought me beauty and it has brought me pain, and I cannot imagine my life without it.”
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Matthew D. Hing
Matthew D. Hing
While still an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, Matthew D. Hing engaged directly with complex global health problems in the developing world. In Puebla, Mexico, Matthew completed an internship at an HIV/AIDS clinic and shadowed medical students at public hospitals to study surgery and obstetrics. During an internship in Jinotepe, Nicaragua, he worked with staff members at a small, government-run clinic to establish a program to provide improved services and education for pregnant women in remote areas. The program empowered women to act as healthcare providers within their communities.
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