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Carter Roger Williams Scholarship

This annual scholarship program is intended to inspire students and their parents to think big about what’s possible for their future. Students who appreciate and embody Roger Williams’s values and legacy are encouraged to apply.

Rhode Island founder Roger Williams was a remarkable man. He came from a very modest background, and access to education was absolutely key in shaping his character, beliefs, and actions throughout his life. Roger Williams set the standard for separation of church and state that the nation adopted, and his vision and determination built the “lively experiment” that was and is Rhode Island. Many of his values are more relevant than ever.

The Carter Roger Williams Scholarship was conceived of and funded by philanthropists Letitia and the late John Carter.

The scholarship provides up to $20,000 in educational aid, per student per year, for graduating high school seniors in Rhode Island. Awards are renewable for up to three consecutive years following the first award, with proof of continued financial need and academic good standing.


The program's intent is to help support enrollment at a college or university that may have otherwise been out of reach for the student and his/her family.


Awards will be made by April 30.

To be eligible, students must:

  • Currently reside in Rhode Island;
  • Be current seniors at any high school (public, independent, or private) in Rhode Island; and
  • Have been accepted by an accredited post-secondary institution (by the date of the award).

An advisory committee of community members and Rhode Island Foundation staff will evaluate potential candidates according to the following criteria:

  • Financial need (45%) Student must demonstrate evidence of financial need, as demonstrated by information about his/her family’s financial resources and projected expenses, and prove that this scholarship will make a meaningful difference in their educational plans.
  • Comprehension and application of Roger Williams’ legacy (35%) Student must demonstrate comprehension of Roger Williams’ principles and legacy and embody Roger Williams by proving application of his principles to his/her life, as demonstrated by a personal essay (in written, video, or audio format) and interview.
  • Academic record (20%) Student should demonstrate a track record of strong academic performance and intellectual rigor as demonstrated by a transcript.

The Rhode Island Foundation manages a competitive scholarship application process overseen by an advisory committee of community members. The selection process will consist of two stages:

  • Stage 1: Application Applicants will submit an application form, a personal essay (to be submitted in written, video, or audio formats), and supporting and financial information.
  • Stage 2: Interview A small group of finalists will be invited to interview with the advisory committee.

Applications are due by midnight on Monday, March 11, 2024.

A full application consists of:

  • Completion of an online application form.
  • A personal essay.
    • Please respond to the following prompt in written (no more than five pages), video (no more than five minutes), or audio (no more than five minutes) format:

Roger Williams, an English colonist who died in 1683, leaves behind a legacy that is at the core of civil governments around the world - and much of his life's work took place right here in Rhode Island.

More than 100 years before the ratification of the United States Constitution, Roger Williams was experimenting with the ideas of religious equality, civic participation, democracy, free speech, and personal liberty, as he led the founding of the City of Providence.

In this personal essay we would like you to share with us how you seek to apply Roger William's legacy in your educational journey, and beyond.

Here is a prompt for you to consider as you prepare the essay:

Consider a value, character trait, or principle that you believe Roger Williams exemplified. How have you chosen to apply - or not apply - that value, character trait, or principle in your life? Do you aspire to something that Roger represented? How as your knowledge of Roger Williams influenced the way in which you view your community?

The following documents:

  • Financial Information Worksheet: Please download this template, complete the form, and upload the document along with your application.
  • Transcript: Please upload the most recent version of your student transcript. This does not have to be the official transcript supplied by your school.

All application components must be uploaded to the Foundation's scholarship application portal.

More information about Roger Williams, his life, and legacy can be found here: Roger Williams National Memorial (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov).

Read about the 2023 Carter Roger Williams Scholarship recipients here.