The Foundation reviews each application individually with the assistance of a panel of national experts. Young Scholars are chosen based upon the criteria below, and while all of these criteria are important, the Foundation pays particular attention to the first two.
- High academic ability and achievement: Strong academic record, academic awards and honors, and substantive assessments by educators providing confidential letters of recommendation. We consider grades (typically mostly 'As'), achievement test scores, participation in available honors or advanced courses, commitment to learning, and work ethic.
- Financial need: Limited family income and insufficient funds to cover significant out-of-pocket education-related expenses. The average family income of our previous class of Young Scholars was approximately $25,000.
- Persistence: Determination and perseverance in the face of challenges, ability to set and remain focused on goals and to put in the effort needed to meet those goals in the face of obstacles.
- Desire to help others: Purposeful and meaningful commitment to others which may be evidenced by participation in volunteer/community service activities.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, creed, color, sex, age, physical or mental disabilities, sexual orientation, or national origin.
Foundation staff, board members, and their families are not eligible to apply.