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NRF Foundation announces next generation scholarship finalists

WASHINGTON – Five undergraduate students are advancing to the final round of the 2021 NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship, a pinnacle achievement for students interested in pursuing careers in retail.

This scholarship opportunity was created for students of various academic backgrounds who have demonstrated leadership skills, previous retail experience and a passion for making an impact. Since its launch in 2014, more than $800,000 in scholarship funds have been awarded through the program. 

The NRF Foundation Next Generation Scholarship is sponsored by SAS and features a top award of $25,000 and a $10,000 award for each of the four finalists.  

“The Next Generation Scholarship is our most prestigious award, and we are delighted with the level of interest and talent with this year’s students,” NRF Foundation Executive Director Bill Thorne said. “We are proud to recognize all of the participating students as future industry leaders.” 

This year, nearly 100 applications were submitted by students from 44 NRF University Member Schools. Of those, 25 students were selected to advance to the next round and received an award of $1,000. They then completed a case study created in collaboration with PetSmart, Inc.   

Judges from PetSmart and a dozen other retail companies evaluated the case studies to determine the top 10 students. These 10 students participated in a virtual interview process with National Retail Federation staff to select the five finalists.  

“SAS congratulates the five finalists and celebrates the success of all the students who participated in the competition,” SAS Vice President of Consumer and Communications and NRF Foundation Board Member James Vickers said. “We look forward to encouraging their curiosity and creativity in retail and bringing fresh ideas to the business problems challenging our industry now and in the future.”  

The top five Next Generation scholars are:

  • Sophia Van Slyke- Butler University
  • Amaiya Sims- Columbia College Chicago
  • Eugene Choi- Santa Clara University
  • Madeline Wong- Santa Clara University
  • Rachel Bennett- Savannah College of Art and Design

The top recipient will be determined after a final round of interviews with the NRF Foundation Board of Directors, chaired by Macy’s Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Gennette, along with executives from some of the industry’s biggest brands. The top recipient will be announced during NRF’s virtual Big Show Chapter 1 in January 2021. 

In addition to the Next Generation Scholarship, the NRF Foundation offers students the opportunity to obtain real-world experience through the NRF Foundation Student Challenge, a team business case competition. The competition is open to current college sophomores, juniors and seniors with submissions due October 15. 

Due to the pandemic, the NRF Foundation will not host an in-person program in New York City for students this winter. The NRF Foundation has launched NRF Foundation All Access, a free online program available to anyone who wants to learn about career opportunities within the retail industry.  

About NRF Foundation 

The NRF Foundation builds the bridge between a growing industry with hundreds of thousands of open positions and job seekers around the country. Through education, training, scholarships and experiences for job seekers of all ages and backgrounds, we help more people take their first steps toward promising careers. The NRF Foundation is the 501(c)(3) philanthropic arm of the National Retail Federation and is funded in part by generous donations from retail industry supporters. 

About NRF

The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $3.9 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 52 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.

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