Institute for Public Democracy Scholarship

Institute for Public Democracy Scholarship

Drake University’s Institute for Public Democracy Scholarship is for entering first-year students who care about the world, who want to invest in making their communities better, and who are excited to grow as leaders.  At the Ron and Jane Olson Institute for Public Democracy, we know that democracy is a collective lived experience – and it can be messy, complicated, inspiring, and energizing!  That’s why we work to encourage collaborative and novel approaches to advance public participation, informed discussion and civil discourse, and civic leadership.

The Ron and Jane Olson Institute for Public Democracy champions democratic practices –things we do every day that advance the project of living and governing together.  Applications are encouraged for students entering in any field of study – scientists and artists are as important to democratic practice as lawyers and legislators!

Drake’s Public Democracy Scholars will each receive a $5,000 tuition scholarship for each year of their Drake undergraduate degree program.  They will also have the opportunity to apply for additional summer support for work in otherwise-unpaid internships or research opportunities with Ron and Jane Olson Institute for Public Democracy faculty and practitioners-in-residence.

Drake University Public Democracy Scholars will do and learn the following:

  • Immersive experiences and programming, all focused on democratic engagement: from social movements to legislative policymaking, from campaigns/elections to non-profit leadership.
  • Fully-funded travel opportunities to study current issues, and the communities they impact.
  • Close engagement with Ron and Jane Olson Institute for Public Democracy faculty alongside a Practitioner-in-Residence.
  • Leadership opportunities during the Institute’s summer Civic Leadership Academy and Summer Institute programs, encouraging interaction with civic leaders, journalists, scientists, activists, scholars and citizens.
  • Additional opportunities for post-graduate awards to pursue education, internships, or work in public democracy.  

Application Process

The deadline to apply is February 1, 2024. The following criteria is required for a complete application:

  • Entering first-year students must apply for admission and submit all required application materials to the Drake University by February 1, 2024.
  • Eligible candidates must have a minimum of 3.5 high school GPA on a 4.0 scale. Official school transcripts must be postmarked or submitted with your application for admission by February 1, 2024.
  • In addition, applicants must apply and submit the separate Public Democracy Scholar application by February 1, 2024.

Preference will be given to students with demonstrated financial need.

Recipients will be notified by late March. Students who are selected must enroll at Drake by May 1, 2024 in order to hold their place in this program.

Please log in using your Office of Admission application credentials. (If you have not yet started your admission application, you must start it before you can set up a scholarship/special program application.

PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL SCHOLARSHIPS ARE RENEWABLE (UP TO 4 YEARS TOTAL OR UNTIL A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IS EARNED) IF REQUIRED ACADEMIC STANDING AND GRADE POINT AVERAGE ARE MAINTAINED. For students entering one of Drake’s joint undergraduate/graduate degree paths, refer to the table below to see how undergraduate awards (including Fine Arts Scholarships) are impacted.


Scholarship Availability

Law 3 + 3

Undergraduate awards available for 3 years or until first year of Law Program (L1).

Doctor of Pharmacy

Undergraduate awards available for 4 years or through the 2nd year of the Pharmacy Program (P2).

Masters in Athletic Training

Undergraduate awards available for 3 years or until the first year of the Athletic Training Program (AT1). There is a one-time, $5000 scholarship for AT1.

Occupational Therapy Doctorate 3+3

Undergraduate awards available for 3 years or until the first year of the OTD program (O1). There is a one-time, $5000 scholarship for O1.