Friends Education Fund Scholarship

A Brief History of the Friends Education Fund


The Friends Education Fund, a Quaker college scholarship program for African American students, was created in the mid-1940s by several members of Indianapolis First Friends Meeting who were the surviving governing board of the only orphanage for African American children in the state of Indiana.

The orphanage was also created by First Friends members after the Civil War.  By the 1920s, when it was closed, the orphanage had provided care for over 3,000 African American children.

In the beginning the educational program was funded by the assets which remained following the closing of the orphanage. These included a bequest from John Williams, a former slave, who was a successful farmer and tanner in 1860s Washington County, Indiana.  In his will he requested that his assets be used to educate “poor Negro children” and, after his death, his assets were transferred by the courts to the Friends orphanage in Indianapolis.  The 1940s decision for educational scholarships was influenced by this bequest.

First Friends invested the orphanage assets and used the proceeds to assist African American students.  Since that time the directors have continued to invest and use the income generated to provide nearly $500,000 in scholarships to over 1,000 students since its beginnings.


As mentioned above, this scholarship is for the benefit of African American students. We receive more applications than we can normally accept and the more information you provide, the better your chances for acceptance.  A new application must be submitted each spring/summer for the upcoming fall semester even if you received aid the previous year.  We provide assistance for undergraduate students only, and any application for aid beyond the customary four years of undergraduate work will be reviewed as a special situation and subject to funds available.

Our program is primarily for recent high school graduates just entering college for their initial semester as well as those already in our program.  If additional funds are available we will then consider applications from students that may be entering college at a later stage in life or those already enrolled in college who may have recently heard of the program.

How to Apply

The recipients for the 2019-2020 school year have been chosen. Congratulations, scholars!

Please check back later for more information on how to apply to the 2020-2021 scholarship.