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ACF Leadership Blog


Opinions, thoughts and ideas from the leaders of the Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona’s largest statewide philanthropic grantmaker.

ACF scholarships are open. Are you ready to apply?
By Joy Klein, Director of Scholarships / November 10, 2020

A strong scholarship essay can make or break an application. Read through our team’s advice on how to write scholarship essays that stick. We’ve also included a sneak peek of the essay questions for ACF’s 2021 application.

Tips for writing a top-notch scholarship essay

Think before you write

Brainstorming is a beautiful thing! Thinking through ideas or creating an outline of your essay before you begin will help you stay focused when answering essay prompts. 

Be positive, truthful, and descriptive

Scholarship reviewers want to get to know you through your essay, so your writing should sound like you. This is also your chance to tell us what makes you so great--don’t be shy! 

Reflect on your life goals and career aspirations

We want to learn more about the goals that a scholarship will help you achieve. You may not have a detailed five-year career plan, and that’s okay! Just make sure to address future ambitions. You could talk about your dream job, your volunteer plans, or even the kind of person you’d like to become. 

Share your unique story

Everyone has a motivation that drives them to achieve their goals--what’s yours? It may be a role model in your life, a formative experience, a social cause you feel passionately about, or something else that makes you, you. Using examples, stories, and descriptive language will help you make a strong impression on readers. If you’re too vague or use generalizations, your reader will likely lose interest. 

Check for spelling errors

You’ve heard it once, and you’ll hear it a hundred more times. Read through your essay carefully for any spelling errors to make sure it looks thoughtful and professional. 

Have a friend or family member read your responses for grammatical errors

Even the most talented editors need a second set of eyes to check their work. Ask someone who you know will give your scholarship essay the time and attention it deserves. 

Scholarship essay questions

Put these tips to the test! The essay questions for the ACF 2021 scholarship application are below. Read them closely, think through your answers, and jot down your thoughts when you find inspiration! You’ll be ready to go when the application opens. 

Essay question #1:

Describe how furthering your education will affect your future and how it will allow you to impact your community and/or society.

Your answer to essay question #1 should be between 250 and 350 words.

Essay question #2: 

Choose one of the three prompts below: 

  • The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives in some way. What have you learned about yourself due to the Covid-19 quarantine? 
  • Tell us about a book or article you have read that has inspired you. 
  • We are a community with quirks, both in language and in traditions. Describe one of your quirks and why it is part of who you are. 

Your answer to essay question #2 should be a maximum of 250 words.

Essay question #3:

What impact would this scholarship have on your educational attainment plans? State any personal or family circumstances affecting your need for financial assistance, such as financial hardship, family responsibilities, illness, disabilities, etc. 

To get started, try answering the following prompts: 

  • What is your current financial situation? 
  • How are you covering everyday expenses?
  •  Is your family able to support you financially? 

Mark your calendars to apply for scholarships

Set a reminder to start your ACF scholarship application on January 1, 2021 and bookmark the online portal at The online portal contains more than 100 college scholarships available to Arizona students. By completing one application, you’ll be automatically matched with available scholarships for which you’re eligible. 

If you have questions about the application, please contact the ACF Scholarship Team.

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