Neilsen Scholarship Program Going Strong After Eight Years

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation currently partners with 17 schools across the United States to reduce socioeconomic barriers in higher education. Through the Neilsen Scholarship Program (NSP), students with spinal cord injuries (SCI) are supported in and out of the classroom.

Neilsen scholars at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Select institutions are invited to participate in the NSP in the hope students will be inspired by the example of our Founder, Craig H. Neilsen, and become leaders and visionaries. Launched in 2014 with eight universities and colleges, the program has helped 242 students with SCI in their educational endeavors. Pictured right: Neilsen Scholars at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

The scholarship provides tuition and fees for the duration of the students’ education in their selected degree program, and supplemental support funds to eliminate barriers to academic success, including housing and living costs and assistive technology and personal care needs. The academic institutions that partner with the Foundation also receive support which benefits students on campus living with a disability.

In recent years, the Foundation has helped its partner institutions support students with SCI, so they can pursue their higher education dreams and goals without the concern of financial hardship.

Every four years, members of an advisory board assist Neilsen Foundation staff in the selection of the institutions that will be invited to take part in the Program. Selected colleges and universities then provide student recommendations to the Foundation.

Lyndsay Cumberland, the Assistant Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, says, “Most of our students in the Neilsen Scholarship Program would not be able to pursue higher education without the help from the Program.

“Because of the NSP, these students are less worried about finances and are able to enjoy the college experience as every other student on campus.”

She adds, “Most of our students in the NSP are also athletes in the Adapted Athletics program, which has grown from five to over 30 athletes, who are winning national championship titles.

“They have the opportunity to play in a facility dedicated to them—the first of its kind on a college campus in the United States.”

Bryan Hilbert, the Disability Resource Center Director at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, explains the scholarship and supplemental funding has allowed the institution staff and administration to “place an emphasis on supporting students with spinal cord injuries.”

“Designing our spaces and processes to be welcoming to those with SCI has caused us to reimagine what inclusivity means,” he adds.

“The greatest help is empowering individuals who have the potential to be great students, advocates, and leaders who haven’t been able to develop those abilities due to a lack of funding or access to education.

“The Neilsen Scholarship gives those students the access and support they need to change their lives and impact their communities.”