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This scholarship program helps fund education for first responders’ families

What started as a way to honor military personnel has now extended to those in public safety

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The Folds of Honor scholarship program is designed to reduce out-of-pocket expenses related to education and is based on unmet need.

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In 2006, Lt. Col. Dan Rooney was flying to Grand Rapids, Michigan after completing his second tour of duty in Iraq. As the plane was landing, the pilot announced they were carrying the remains of an American hero, Cpl. Brock Bucklin. The pilot requested that all passengers stay seated until his casket was unloaded from the plane and met by his family on the tarmac.

Staring out the plane’s window, Rooney saw Bucklin’s young son clutching his mom’s leg. He realized that the boy would never again play catch, go fishing or spend time with his dad. Despite being an F-16 fighter pilot, it was a side of war he had never seen.

Also, to his surprise, many of the passengers gave no regard to the event transpiring below them, and instead clamored to grab their bags and move on to their next destination. In this moment, Rooney realized that the sacrifices made by members of the military and their families go unnoticed far too often and that something had to be done.

The desire to assist the families of America’s heroes is what led Rooney to found Folds of Honor, a program that provides academic scholarships to the spouses and children of disabled or fallen U.S. military personnel. Now, Folds of Honor is expanding its mission to support the families of first responders.


Folds of Honor’s scholarship program is unique in many ways, providing assistance and encouragement to the family members of military service members and first responders who have overcome the greatest of adversities.

Folds of Honor scholarship funds are available to the spouses and children of any first responder, including law enforcement officers, EMTs, paramedics, firefighters and other individuals who respond to fire, medical or similar emergencies.

Awards aren’t limited to college use only, as recipients can use the scholarship to help pay tuition for private school or tutoring in grades K-12 as well as the cost of technical or trade school, postgraduate work and even a second bachelor’s degree.

There is no limit to the number of dependents that can apply and adopted children of first responders are also eligible for the program. Active-duty first responders who have fallen or suffered a catastrophic, career-ending injury do not have to have been on duty when the incident occurred for their family members to be eligible.


The Folds of Honor scholarship program is designed to reduce out-of-pocket expenses related to education and is based on unmet need. During the application review process, the cost of an applicant’s tuition, fees and textbooks, as well as on-campus housing and meal plans for higher education, will be calculated and compared to other sources of awards and financial aid. If there is a gap, or unmet need, an applicant may be awarded a scholarship.

Upon acceptance of an offer, the recipient is asked to submit an official school transcript showing a 2.0 or higher grade point average for the two most recent academic terms.

Folds of Honor provides up to $2,500 per school term and the funds can be used for a wide range of education-related expenses. Costs such as off-campus housing, computers, parking passes or student insurance cannot be paid for using the scholarship.

Those planning on applying for a 2023 scholarship should keep the following dates in mind:

  • February 1 – Scholarship application window opens at 9 a.m. EST
  • March 15 – Have you submitted your application yet? Submissions dated 3/18 or after will not be provided additional time after 3/31 to submit additional or corrected information
  • March 31 – Scholarship application window closes at 6 p.m. EST
  • July 15 – Scholarship award offer notifications are emailed (exact date TBD)
  • July 20 – Scholarship acceptance/Check-in 1 opens
  • August 31 – Scholarship acceptance/Check-in 1 deadline


As a nonprofit organization with a 4 out of 4 ranking on Charity Navigator, Folds of Honor ensures that 91% of every donated dollar goes directly to its scholarship awards. People are encouraged to enroll in the Squadron donation program and make a recurring monthly contribution of $13, a figure that honors the 13 folds in the American flags given to the families of those who have fallen in the line of duty.

Folds of Honor takes pride in making a lasting difference in the lives of spouses and children of disabled or killed military members and first responders. To date, nearly 44,000 scholarships have been awarded, with 41% given to minority recipients.

Students who receive Folds of Honor scholarships see the award as a way to help further the legacy of their spouse or parent. The courage and desire to serve that first responders possess shouldn’t go unnoticed, and Folds of Honor is here to support the families of these brave individuals.

Visit Folds of Honor for more information.

Courtney Levin is a Branded Content Project Lead for Lexipol where she develops content for the public safety audience including law enforcement, fire, EMS and corrections. She holds a BA in Communications from Sonoma State University and has written professionally since 2016.