The Carter Roger Williams Scholarship helps Rhode Island students who appreciate and embody Roger Williams’s values and legacy attain a college education. This annual scholarship program is intended to inspire students and their parents to think big about what’s possible for their future and to value the role of education.

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 John Carter and is managed by the Rhode Island Foundation.

Number and Amount of Scholarship Awards

The scholarship provides sponsorships up to $20,000 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. 

Our intent is to help support enrollment at a college or university that may have otherwise out of reach of the student and his/her family. Awards will be made by April 30. 

Read about the 2020 Carter Roger Williams Scholarship recipients here.  


To be eligible, students must:

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

Selection Criteria

The advisory committee will evaluate potential candidates according to the following criteria:

  1. Financial need (45%)
    Student must demonstrate evidence of financial need, as demonstrated by the FAFSA and supplementary 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Academic record (20%)
    Student should demonstrate a track record of strong academic performance and intellectual rigor as demonstrated by a transcript.

Selection Process

The Rhode Island Foundation will administer a competitive scholarship application process overseen by an advisory committee. 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 at midnight on February 12, 2021. Complete the application here

A full application consists of:

  1. Completion of an online application form.
  2. 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.

    Rhode Island founder Roger Williams was a remarkable man, both for his day and in modern times. In this personal essay, we want to see how you comprehend and seek to apply Roger Williams’s legacy in your life. Share your thoughts on one of the following options.

    Option #1: If Roger Williams were delivering the commencement address to your high school this year, what would you want him to say?

    Option #2: Consider a value, character trait, or principle that you believe Roger Williams exemplified. How have you chosen to apply, or not apply, that value in your life? Do you aspire to something that Roger represented? How has your knowledge of Roger Williams influenced the way in which you view your community.
  3. The following documents: 

    • Financial Information Worksheet: Please download this template, complete the form, and upload the document to your application.
    • Student Aid Report: Please upload the latest version of your Student Aid Report (SAR).
    • Transcript: Please upload the most recent version of your student transcript. This does not have to be the official transcript supplied by your school.
    • Proof of residency: Submit proof of Rhode Island residency (driver’s license, voter registration card, letter from your school).

All of the documents must be uploaded through our electronics grants system.