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What Makes a Great Scholarship Application? A Guide for Indigenous Students

October 3, 2017

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 Part One: Finding the Right Award 

If you’ve never applied for or received a scholarship before, the application process might be intimidating. However, we’re here to help demystify the process with a few tips about what makes a great application and a breakdown of what you need, why you’ll need it, and how to make your application stand out. As scholarship providers ourselves, the team at Animikii has put together this blog miniseries to share with Indigenous students exactly what we look for when awarding our annual $500 technology and entrepreneurship scholarships, and how to take advantage of scholarships and other awards - even after the school year has started.

The first thing to know is that every award is different; some are merit-based (i.e., they take your grade point average into account), some available only for parents or primary caregivers, some for students going into certain fields of study or work, and some are available to employees of certain organizations. The point is, there is an award for every type of student. You don’t need to be the best athlete, the most creative artist, or the highest achieving student to receive help in covering costs for your tuition, books, or living expenses while in school. Sometimes all it takes is filling out the applications and meeting the requirements. Every year there are tons of awards for students that go unclaimed, and that’s money organizations wanted to give away - they just couldn’t find applicants that met their requirements. Awards come in all different amounts - some can be quite modest ranging anywhere from $100 to tens of thousands of dollars. Scholarship promo

Paying for school is one of the most stressful aspects of seeking a post-secondary education. At Animikii, we want to help reduce that stress for Indigenous students, many of whom are already taking on challenges that their non-Indigenous friends and classmates won’t encounter. While our scholarships are specifically for Indigenous entrepreneurship and technology students (read more about why we focus on these programs here), we recognize that all Indigenous students, could use more support in seeking out scholarships, grants and bursaries.

 The Language of Awards 

To start off this mini-series on the scholarship process from an Indigenous perspective, we think it’s best to begin with language. There are many different types and categories of awards available, and without knowing the difference between each type, it can be difficult to know which types of awards are right for you. A scholarship, is different from a bursary, which is different from a student grant, or a student loan. While definitions may vary from organization to organization, generally speaking, here is the breakdown of these different terms to help you in your search for the right award for you:

 Award: “Award” is a general term, or an “umbrella” term that can be used to describe any type of financial support provided to students (i.e.: all scholarships are awards, but not all awards are scholarships). Sometimes it may refer to a contest for a financial prize open to students, but these are rare.

 Bursary:  A bursary is a financial award provided to a student on the basis of financial need. Usually bursary applications will require you to prove some threshold of financial need and they may be awarded based on who needs the funding the most (as determined by the application process). There is no expectation for a bursary to be repaid by the recipient.

 Grant:  A grant is a financial award provided to students (or more commonly, to businesses, artists or organizations) by governments or other large scale organizations. There is no expectation that the award will be repaid by the recipient. A grant application will commonly ask for information about your studies or your work.

 Loan:  A loan is provided by a financial institution or government to a student. Loans must be repaid by the recipient, with varying levels of interest and repayment policies. 

 Scholarship:  A scholarship is a financial award provided to a student on some basis of performance or merit. Scholarships could be awarded based on a proven committment to academic, athletic, or community  pursuits. There is no expectation for a scholarship to be repaid by the recipient.

 Sponsorship:  Some Nations and Indigenous Communities may provide sponsorship money to students belonging to that Nation or Community. Each Community has its own set of guidelines, eligibility criteria, and application process. To find out if there are any sponsorship opportunities available through your Community, contact an Education Coordinator, Youth Representative or  Councillor in your Community’s leadership structure.

 The Animikii Scholarship 

Animikii offers a $500 scholarship for Indigenous youth (17-30) who are either in technology or entrepreneurship-based post-secondary programs. There’s no deadline, but the sooner we receive your application the sooner we can consider it for award, so don’t delay! For more information about the award or want to apply - check out To learn more about last year’s winner, Melvin James of Lil’wat First Nation, read his recipient profile here.

Article published October 3, 2017.

October 3, 2017

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