Graduate Fellowship Sample Letter

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Graduate Fellowships Sample Letter

Ann Wood, Director

Contact us: (323) 343-6156 or email


Most private
sector funding sources recommend that a fellowship seeker make initial contact
by letter.

I want to add that you
will save a lot of postage money and frustration with returned letters if you
call first and check the current address of the foundation that you are writing.

Foundation addresses change very
frequently because they are often administered by bank trusts or other third
Call and ask for the
current address, contact person's name and title, fax and e-mail address.This extra effort will save much frustration
over returned mail and save money and time in the long run.


The letter
should be addressed to the Contact person listed who is listed in the
directory, using the person's correct title.  Do not bother to write to anyone else if a contact person is
Contacts are paid to
correspond with applicants.
If the
directory lists no contact person, just write to the president of the

TYPE the letter
and keep it one page.  It should
contain ABSOLUTELY NO typos, punctuation or spelling errors.


Content should
include: (1) Who you are.  State
your unique qualifications, past accomplishments, experiences IN RELATION TO
THE INTERESTS OF THE FOUNDATION to which you are writing.  They have monies that they want to see
spent on particular topics and causes. 
Your task is to convince them that you represent these same
interests.  If you do not, you
should not write to this particular foundation or corporation.  (2) How you meet their eligibility
requirements.  This means that you
have to note what their particular funding categories are in the directories
sited.  Do not bother to write if
you do not.  (3) Tell what you plan
on doing with the grant or fellowship in terms of schooling, topic of interest
and/or long-term career plans.  (4)
DISTINGUISH YOURSELF FROM THE REST OF THE APPLICANTS.  Write with a flair, be creative.  Tell how you are different from others applying.  Say it succinctly and clearly.


Request complete
instructions and procedures for any formal application.  Pay particular attention to any due
date.  Do not bother to send
anything that cannot make the due date. 
In many cases, there is no formal application, except perhaps a phone or
in-person interview.  This one-page
letter is frequently all that you have to write.  The good news is that it is usually not a lengthy process or
application.  The bad news is that
you have to use a few words and one piece of paper to tell them why they should
give you the money, rather than someone else.  The good news is also that, unlike most academic financial
aid scholarships, foundations are less concerned with GPA's and
coursework.  They want to see hard
work, dedication, persistence, creativity – a well-rounded, real person
who knows what she/he wants to accomplish in life.  Many family foundations are initiated and administered by
those who do not have a college education, but have earned and/or inherited
wealth.  Often they have particular
causes that they contribute to regularly such as the Kroc Foundation
(international peace, anti-alcoholism etc.) and the Price Foundation (Latino
youth).  Your task is to get them
to invest in you as a representative of their cause.


List your phone
number.  Invest in an answering
machine if you are gone a lot and do NOT leave a Òsilly messageÓ on it once you
start applying for foundation fellowships.  If you have one now, change it to one that is acceptable to
receiving professionally-related calls.


Thank them for
their assistance in helping you finance your graduate education, grant project,
foreign study, etc.


In about two
weeks, call the contact person back to check if he/she received your
letter.  Do this even if there is
no deadline date; i.e., revolving applications.  Ask when the foundation will be making its awards and
notifying recipients.