“The purpose of the Fund is to provide education assistance for postsecondary study to financially needy dependents of those people killed or permanently disabled as a result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and during the rescue activities relating to those attacks.”
–From the Fund Declaration
Established within one week of the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund® is unprecedented in its scope. It will ultimately provide higher education assistance to an entire generation of financially needy dependents of those killed or permanently disabled in the 9/11 attacks and their aftermath. The Fund has already provided hundreds of millions of dollars in scholarship support, and will continue to provide education assistance through the year 2030.
The Lumina Foundation, a private foundation that strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to an education beyond high school, established the Fund with the foresight that the loss of a family provider to death or injury on 9/11 would put the educational futures of thousands of present and future students in jeopardy. The Lumina Foundation pledged the initial $3 million to create the Fund: $1 million went directly to the Fund and $2 million to a dollar-for-dollar matching grant to encourage contributions from individuals. The $2 million matching grant was met on December 18, 2001.
The Fund sparked incredible generosity nationwide. With President Bill Clinton and U.S. Senator Bob Dole serving as campaign co-chairs, donations arrived from more than 20,000 corporations, foundations, educational institutions, grassroots organizations, and individuals, raising more than $108 million. More than 16,000 of those contributors were individuals.
The first Families of Freedom scholarships were awarded in January 2002. As of September 2019, the Fund and its subfunds had provided needed scholarships to more than 3,600 individuals, totaling $164 million; there are currently more than 3,800 individuals registered for Families of Freedom scholarships through 2030.
The Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund is managed by Scholarship America (known as the Citizens’ Scholarship Foundation of America until January 1, 2003), the nation’s premier nonprofit, private sector scholarship and educational support organization. Scholarship America has administered the Families of Freedom Scholarship Fund at cost since the inception of the Fund. Scholarship America has distributed $4.2 billion to 2.5 million students across the country.