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10 Leadership Awards for High School Students

High school students who have exhibited exemplary leadership in their extracurriculars and academics have the opportunity to win prestigious awards and scholarships.

Leadership is a quality that is highly valuable for high school students, whether it’s in extracurriculars, academic pursuits, sports, or any other passion that a student may have. That’s why many organizations have set up an award to recognize outstanding student leaders and, in some cases, offer them a college scholarship.

Whether you’ve led a school club project, excelled in your debate club or sports team, or made a significant difference in your larger community, these awards may be a good fit for you. Here are some of the best scholarships and leadership awards for high school students, particularly high school seniors.

1. Widener University High School Leadership Awards


For the past 10 years, Widener University partners with NBC 10 to give principals and other high school administrators in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware the opportunity to acknowledge and honor the region’s best and brightest future leaders who take it upon themselves to make a significant difference in their schools and communities.

If the selected student leader enrolls at Widener as an undergraduate student, then they will take part in the Apogee Leadership Scholars Program. Our Apogee Scholars receive a $20,000 scholarship over four years, and access to four years of leadership programming, including a Widener Leadership Certificate.


Students in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware who have demonstrated leadership by standing up for what is right, finding a way to address a wrong, or making a significant difference in their schools or communities.


Students must be nominated by their principal in order to progress in the competition.

2. Brower Environmental Leadership Awards for High School Students


Earth Island Institute established the Brower Youth Award for Environmental Leadership in 2000 to honor renowned environmental advocate David Brower, who said, “I love to see what young people can do before someone old tells them it’s impossible.” They recognize the outstanding leadership efforts of young people who are working for the protection of our shared planet.

Each of the six recipients of the Brower Youth Awards will receive a $3,000 cash prize, a professionally produced short film about their work from an Emmy Award-winning film crew, and flight and lodging accommodations for a weeklong trip to the San Francisco Bay Area.


Youth environmental change leaders ages 13 to 22 (as of May 14, 2021) living in North America (including Mexico, Canada, and some Caribbean Islands) and U.S. territories are encouraged to apply.


May 2022

3. Ronald Reagan Leadership Medal


This prestigious award is presented to graduating students who best exemplify the following characteristics: Drive, Humility, and Service Before Self. It allows schools to recognize outstanding high school students whose drive, integrity, and citizenship qualities are emblematic of our nation’s 40th President.

Each nominated student will receive an exclusive medallion and a letter of recognition from John Heubusch, the Executive Director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute. Awards will be mailed to school administrators during the month of May, in time to be presented at a culmination ceremony, award reception, or graduation.


Eligible students graduate in the current academic year and exemplify the values of Drive, Humility, and Service Before Self.


Students must be nominated by their principal in order to progress in the competition.

4. Elks Most Valuable Student Competition


The MVS scholarship is open to high school seniors who are U.S. citizens. The 500 four-year scholarships are awarded based on academics, service, leadership, and financial need. Ranging from $1,000 per year to $12,500 per year, Most Valuable Student scholarships are for students pursuing a four-year degree, on a full-time basis (minimum of 12 semester hours), in a U.S. college or university. All scholarships are in the form of certificates of award conditional upon the full-time enrollment of the winner in an accredited U.S. college or university.

The 20 Top Finalists traditionally participate in an all-expenses-paid Leadership Weekend in Chicago during which they’ll interview with the national judges. These 20 Finalists will be vying for two first-place awards of $50,000; two second-place awards of $40,000; and two third-place awards of $30,000. The remaining 14 finalists will receive awards of $20,000. The 480 runners-up will receive fifth-place scholarships of $4,000.


Current high school seniors or the equivalent who are citizens of the United States are eligible to apply. Applicants do not need to be related to a member of the Elks. High school graduates are not eligible to apply. Applicants must be citizens of the United States on the date their applications are submitted; permanent legal resident status does not qualify.


November 15, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PST

5. Young Women in Public Affairs Award


Because Zonta International believes that young women are the key to women’s advancement in the field of public service, it offers the Young Women in Public Affairs (YWPA) Award, which recognizes young women, ages 16-19, for demonstrating leadership skills and commitment to public service and civic causes and encourages them to continue their participation in public and political life.

The program operates at the Zonta club, district/region, and international levels. Zonta clubs provide awards for club recipients, and district/region and international awards are funded by the Zonta Foundation for Women. District recipients receive US$1,500, and 10 international recipients are selected from the district/region recipients to receive awards of US$5,000 each.


Women, aged 16-19 on 1 April each year, studying at a secondary school, college or university in a Zonta district/region, or who are studying elsewhere but are citizens of a Zonta country, who demonstrate evidence of the following, are eligible to apply:

  • Active commitment to volunteerism.

  • Experience in local government, student government, or workplace leadership (paid or unpaid).

  • Volunteer leadership achievements.

  • Knowledge of Zonta International and its programs.

  • Support of Zonta International’s mission of empowering women worldwide through service and advocacy.


Applications must be completed and presented to Zonta clubs according to the club’s assigned deadline. A club recipient is selected, and the application is presented to the governor/regional representative by 1 April. The district/region recipient is selected, and the application is presented to Zonta International Headquarters by 1 May.

6. The Coca-Cola Scholars Program Scholarship for High School Seniors


The Coca-Cola Scholars Program scholarship is an achievement-based scholarship awarded to graduating high school seniors. Students are recognized for their capacity to lead and serve, as well as their commitment to making a significant impact on their schools and communities. With the 33rd class in 2021, the Foundation has provided over 6,450 Coca-Cola Scholars with more than $75 million in educational support. 150 Coca-Cola Scholars are selected each year to receive this $20,000 scholarship.


Applicants must be:

  • Current high school (or home-schooled) student attending a school in the U.S. (or select DoD schools) who will graduate during the 2021-2022 academic school year

  • U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, U.S. Permanent Residents, Refugees, Asylees, Cuban-Haitian Entrants, or Humanitarian Parolees – based on the guidelines utilized by U.S. Department of Education for Federal Financial Aid eligibility

  • Expecting to receive high school diploma during the current academic year

  • Planning to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution

  • Able to verify a minimum overall B/3.0 GPA in high school coursework


October 31, 2021 at 5 pm EST

7. Bank of America Student Leaders


Every year, Student Leaders connects more than 300 community-minded high school juniors and seniors from nearly 100 communities to employment, skills, and development service. The students hail from many diverse backgrounds but are united by their drive and commitment.

As a Student Leader, you will participate in an eight-week paid internship at a local nonprofit organization where you will learn first-hand about the needs of your community and the critical role nonprofits play. In addition, you will learn valuable civic, social, and business leadership skills. Each Student Leader will attend the Student Leaders Summit held in Washington, D.C. where you will learn how government, business, and the nonprofit sector work together to address critical community needs.


To become a Student Leader, you must:

  • Currently be a junior or senior in high school

  • Be able to participate in an 8-week paid internship at a local nonprofit organization and work 35 hours a week

  • Be legally authorized to work in the US without sponsorship through the end of September 2021

  • Be able to participate in a week-long Student Leaders Summit in Washington, DC (Summer 2021) (All expenses paid. This week will be part of your 8-week experience.) Note: in-person events will be in line with local and national guidelines around gatherings and travel and may be subject to change

  • Be a student in good standing at your school

  • Obtain a letter of recommendation from a teacher, guidance counselor, or school administrator

  • Reside in one of the eligible listed markets


The 2022 Student Leader application will open in early November.

8. President’s Volunteer Service Award


In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation founded the President’s Volunteer Service Award to recognize the important role of volunteers in America’s strength and national identity. This award honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action, too.


Eligible applicants should meet the following criteria.

  • United States citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States (i.e., green card holder)

  • Must be at least five years old

  • Completes eligible service within a 12-month period (for annual Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards) and over a lifetime (for Lifetime Achievement Awards)


April 1, 2022

9. Alliant Energy Scholarship Program


To encourage innovation and creative problem solving, Alliant Energy offers a scholarship program for students pursuing a career in business, applied sciences, technology, engineering, and math fields upon graduation. If selected as a recipient, the student will receive a $1,000 award. Up to 25 awards will be granted.


Applicants to the Alliant Energy Innovation Scholarship Program must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Be a U.S. resident residing within the Alliant Energy service territory at the time of application;

  • Be a dependent child of a current customer or a current customer of one of Alliant Energy’s utility subsidiaries (Interstate Power and Light Co. or Wisconsin Power and Light Co.);

  • Be age 24 or under, enrolling for the first time in full-time undergraduate study in business or a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Math) field at an accredited two- or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school located within the Alliant Energy Corporation service territory (Iowa and Wisconsin) for the entire upcoming academic year;

  • Have a cumulative high school grade point average between 2.5 and 4.00 on a 4.00 scale (or equivalent).


TBD — closed for this year

10. James W. Lewis Leadership Award


The NSHSS James W. Lewis Global Leader Scholarship awards 2 high school seniors and college freshmen with $5,000 each. It has been established to encourage and recognize young leaders who exemplify the values to which Mr. Lewis has dedicated his life and work, including a commitment to diversity and inclusion and encouraging leadership among youth.


High school sophomores, juniors, or seniors with a minimum 3.5 GPA or higher are eligible.


Thursday, September 30, 2021 at 11:59 PM EST

If you’re looking for help editing your scholarship applications or general college admissions consulting, don’t hesitate to set up a free consultation today.

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