How to apply for the Next Generation Scholarship

The 2019-2020 Next Generation Scholarship is now closed for applications.

The NRF Foundation and retail executive judges are searching for high-performing students who demonstrate a passion for retail and a unique, innovative perspective on our industry to apply for the Next Generation Scholarship. Recipients will be ambitious, adaptable and have the potential to impact the future of retail.

Application Process

The 2019-2020 Next Generation scholarship application process consists of two phases. In the first phase, applicants are required to submit an essay, personal brand video, two letters of recommendation, resume, headshot and school transcripts. The application deadline for phase one is Friday, March 29, 2019 at 11:59pm ET.

In the second phase, the top 25 applicants will be required to complete a company-specific project and interview with an assigned retailer. Applicants will be notified by April 22, 2019 if they have been selected to move on to this phase and will receive their assigned project. The application deadline for phase two is August 2, 2019 at 11:59pm ET.

In the third phase, the top 10 applicants will complete quick-fire interviews with the NRF Foundation Team. From there, the top 5 finalists will be identified. The finalists will complete their final round interviews at the October 2019 NRF Foundation Board Meeting.


Scholarship Timeline

February 1, 2019 - Applications open for submission.

March 29, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. ET - Phase one deadline: Essay, personal brand video, letters of recommendation, resume, school transcripts and headshot due.

April 22, 2019 - Up to 25 semi-finalists selected and notified if moving on to phase two; company project distributed to those applicants via the scholarship platform.

August 2, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. ET - Phase two deadline: Company project and company interview completed by this time.

September 3, 2019 - Top 10 applicants selected and notified.

September 4 - 13, 2019 - Top 10 applicants complete quick-fire interviews with NRF Foundation Team.

September 16, 2019 - ​Top 5 finalists selected and notified.

October 15, 2019 - Final round interviews at NRF Foundation Board Meeting.

January 2020 - Top recipient announced on stage at NRF Foundation Gala.


  • Juniors or seniors enrolled full time at a University Member school at the time when the scholarship is presented in January 2020 (Note: current sophomores can apply if they will be of junior standing in January of  2020)
  • Must not have previously received an award of $10,000 or more from the NRF Foundation.
  • Must be U.S. citizens or legal U.S. residents eligible to work in the United States.
  • Must have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale.
  • Must have prior or current experience working in a retail job or internship.
  • Students in any major are eligible. Possible majors include business, merchandising, supply chain, analytics, entrepreneurship, finance, accounting, retail studies, computer science, marketing, communications, etc.

Impressing the judges 

Judges are searching for high-performing students who demonstrate a passion for leadership and a unique, innovative perspective on our industry.

The top 25 applicants will receive a travel stipend to cover registration and travel expenses to attend the NRF Foundation Student Program at NRF 2020 in New York City. Travel stipends will be paid directly to the school. These students are also invited to attend the NRF Foundation Gala.

The NRF Foundation will announce the top recipient during the NRF Foundation Gala: one $25,000 scholarship for the top recipient and four $10,000 scholarships. Scholarship proceeds will be made payable to the educational institution at which the student is enrolled. 

Email with questions related to the scholarship process.