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Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship

The Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship provides financial assistance to racial or ethnic minority union members and their families who wish to pursue postsecondary education at one of Minnesota's state universities or at one of the two-year community and technical colleges that are part of the Minnesota State. Those attending the University of Minnesota or a private school are not eligible for this scholarship.

Labor and education: Partners for the future

Nellie Stone Johnson was a labor union activist with a long and distinguished record of public service in support of the advancement of minority concerns, the rights of workers and equal opportunities for all people. Her life can be chronicled as a series of "firsts": As a leader of organized labor in the 1930s and ’40s, she was the first woman vice president of the Minnesota Culinary Council and the first woman president of Local 665 Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union. She was also the first Black person elected to citywide office in Minneapolis when she won a seat on the library board in 1945. Her biography, Nellie Stone Johnson: Life of an Activist, is available for purchase from the scholarship committee.


  • School affiliation: The applicant must be currently enrolled in or accepted into a program at a Minnesota State institution.
  • Union affiliation: The applicant must be a union member or the child, grandchild or spouse of a union member.
  • Ethnicity: The applicant must be a racial/ethnic group member as defined by the Minnesota State Diversity and Multiculturalism Office (and for this scholarship) to include Black/African American, Chicano/a or Latino/a, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Native American/Alaskan Native.
  • Academic standards: The applicant must meet academic and admission standards of the institution he/she is attending. Applicants must have at least a 2.0 grade point average for undergraduate students and 3.0 grade point average for graduate students to be eligible to apply for this scholarship.
  • Credits required: Full-time status for undergraduate students is twelve (12) credits or more and graduate students is six (6) credits or more. Part-time status for undergraduate students is 6-11 credits.
  • Awards: Full-time scholarship recipients will be awarded $1,200 and part-time scholarship recipients will be awarded $500.


Application deadline is June 1. 

Incomplete application packets will not be considered. Complete application packets must be postmarked by June 1.

For consideration, the application packet must include all of the following items:

  • Completed application form (will be available online once open for applications)
  • Personal essay: The applicant must submit a typewritten statement about his/her background, educational goals, career goals and commitment to the causes of human or civil rights. The statement is limited to two typewritten pages, double spaced in an eleven (11) point font.
  • Letters of recommendation: Two (2) separate letters of recommendation from two (2) different sources, signed and dated, must accompany the application. Letters may come from teachers, community organization or church leaders, or club or group leaders, and should address achievements and accomplishments, community involvement, commitment to pursuing education or commitment to the causes of human and civil rights.
  • Transcript: High school seniors must submit their most recent high school transcript and a copy of the letter of acceptance from the university or college they will be attending. Students already enrolled in a Minnesota State college or university must submit their most recent transcript.
  • Union verification: Include either a copy of the current union card or a letter from the union verifying that union membership is in good standing (or union retirement in good standing).

Mail your application packet to:

The Nellie Stone Johnson Scholarship Committee
P.O. Box 40309
Saint Paul, MN 55104

For more information, call 651-738-1404 or 866-738-5238.


Scholarships are awarded based on:

  • Personal essay
  • Commitment to human or civil rights
  • Extracurricular activities/volunteer activities/community involvement
  • Academic standing
  • Union verification

Scholarship renewal

  • Students may apply for this scholarship each year. Students are eligible for consideration for up to two years for a community or technical college program, up to four years of undergraduate work at a university (including two years in a community or technical college), and up to two years of graduate work. Previous scholarship recipients are NOT guaranteed automatic scholarship renewal but are welcome to reapply.
  • Students must complete the application process in its entirety every year by submitting a complete application packet by the deadline in order to be considered.
  • In addition to the required essay criteria, personal essays should include how the scholarship has impacted their education.
  • Letters of recommendation must be current, dated and signed.
  • Students must continue to meet all the qualifications for the scholarship in order to receive consideration for an additional scholarship award.