How to apply for the Next Generation Scholarship

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.

The 2021-2022 Next Generation Scholarship is now closed. Please read below for insights into the application process and stay tuned for updates regarding next year's competition.

Application Process

The 2021-2022 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, April 16, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

In the second phase, the top 25 applicants will be required to complete a case study created in collaboration with Meijer. and complete phone interviews with two assigned retailers. Applicants will be notified by May 12, 2021 if they have been selected to move on to this phase and will receive their assigned project. The application deadline for phase two is Aug. 6, 2021 at 11:59 p.m EST.

In the third phase, the top 10 applicants will complete quick-fire interviews with the NRF Team. From there, the top five finalists will be identified. The finalists will complete their final round interviews in the Fall of 2021 with the NRF Foundation Board of Directors.

View this year's requirements here


Scholarship Timeline

Jan. 19, 2021- Applications open for submission

April 16, 2021 - Phase one deadline: Essay, personal brand video, letters of recommendation, resume, school transcripts and headshot due

May 12, 2021 - Up to 25 semifinalists selected and notified if moving on to phase two; company project distributed to those applicants via the scholarship platform

Aug. 6, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. EST - Phase two deadline: Company project and company interview completed by this time

Aug. 30, 2021 - Top 10 applicants selected and notified

Aug. 30 - Sept. 10, 2021 - Top 10 applicants complete quick-fire interviews with NRF Foundation Team

Sept. 14, 2021 - ​Top 5 finalists selected and notified

Fall 2021 - Final round interviews

January 2022 - Top recipient announced on stage at NRF Foundation Honors


  • Juniors or seniors enrolled full time at a University Member school at the time when the scholarship is presented in January 2022 (Note: current sophomores can apply if they will be of junior standing in January of  2022)
  • 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 either receive a travel stipend to cover registration and travel expenses to attend the NRF Foundation Student Program in New York City, or a tuition award if we are not able to convene in-person in January 2022. Travel stipends/tuition funds will be paid directly to the school. These students are also invited to attend the NRF Foundation Honors in January 2022 if the event takes place.

The NRF Foundation will announce the top recipient in January 2022: 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.

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Application Portal Tutorial

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