Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation

The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation, or the CCSF, is a non-profit organization that works on behalf and at the direction of the Coca-Cola system (including The Coca-Cola Company, the world's largest producer of non-alcoholic beverages, and its many subsidiaries) to provide scholarships to some 1,400 students annually in amounts totaling over $3.4 million dollars each year. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has the stated mission to "provide scholarship programs and enrichment opportunities in support of exceptional young peoples' thirst for knowledge and their desire to make a difference in the world." The CCSF was founded in 1986, and since its inception has helped fund the college education of more than 4,500 Coca-Cola Scholars with over $41 million. According to the CCSF, however, their vision is much broader than just helping fund a college education. They hope to "develop a powerful network of community leaders, touched by Coca−Cola, whose vision will help shape the world, leaving a lasting legacy for generations to come." The Coca-Cola Scholarships are meant to "reward leadership and excellence as exemplified through academic achievement and extracurricular activities, including commitment to community service." As Coca-Cola was approaching its centennial in 1986, leaders in the bottling industry decided to make a large financial gift that then became the Coca-Cola Scholars Program. In its first year, 150 graduating seniors planning on attending college were awarded four-year grants. Today, those grants have grown into $20,000 scholarships for 50 students annually and $10,000 scholarships for another 200 students annually ($5,000/year for 4 years and $2,500/year for four years respectively). Coca-Cola Scholars often refer to their bond with other scholars fondly, calling themselves a "family" or a "community," frequently engaging in service activities, social reunions, and offering internship and employment opportunities to younger scholars.

Selection process

The process through which the scholars are selected on an annual basis is well-known to be quite rigorous and extensive. First, a long and involved online application must be completed in which students fill in information regarding their academic achievements and leadership and service in extracurricular involvement. Typically, the CCSF receives between 85,000 and 100,000 applications between August and the end of October each year. These applications are scored electronically and from the set of applicants, 2,500 are selected as semi-finalists. There is consideration given to many factors in each step of this process, including regional representation across the United States. These 2,500 individuals are asked to complete another relatively extensive application which includes essays and a more in depth look at each scholar. From their number, approximately 250 Coca-Cola Scholars are selected, and they are invited to an all-expense-paid trip to Atlanta during which they do many fun activities, but also have interviews conducted by community leaders and alumni of the Coca-Cola Scholars Program.

During these interviews, 50 scholars are chosen as National Coca-Cola Scholars and receive the larger $20,000 scholarship. The other 200 are named Regional Coca-Cola Scholars, and receive $10,000 scholarships. Generally, other than the difference in monetary compensation, the two types of scholars are treated no differently and few scholars ever find out whether their friends are Regional or National Coca-Cola Scholars. Additionally, there are sometimes additional scholars who receive other honors, like scholarships specifically for Emory University and the Coca-Cola Alumni Scholarship, first created for the graduating high school Class of 2008.


In order to be eligible for a Coca−Cola Scholarship, one must be a current high school or home-school senior planning to graduate from a school or program in the United States during the academic year in which application is made. Additionally, students must be U.S. Citizens, U.S. Nationals, U.S. Permanent Residents, Temporary Residents (legalization program), Refugees, Asylee, Cuban-Haitian Entrants, or Humanitarian Parolees. Furthermore, they must plan to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution and carry a minimum 3.00 GPA at the end of your junior year of high school. Applicants may not be children or grandchildren of employees, officers, or owners of Coca−Cola bottling companies, The Coca−Cola Company or any other bottler or Company divisions or subsidiaries.


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