Educational Support

Scholarship Award Benefits Program

UNITE HERE Local 23 and its employer partners believe in supporting union members as they build a better future for themselves and their families. In addition to providing access to training classes, STEP has two educational programs to help offset the tuition costs of higher education.

How It Works

The Scholarship Award Benefits are for undergraduate study at accredited, not-for-profit two or four year colleges, universities, or other post-secondary institutions. Scholarship awards are limited in number, and they are awarded annually.

By March 31st each year, the STEP Fund will post the scholarship application on this site, as well as relevant deadlines about when and how to apply. Please note that the decision to award a benefit is subject to the discretion of the Scholarship Committee. Eligibility for scholarship alone does not automatically entitle an applicant to an award.


In order to apply for a Scholarship Award:

  • You must be an eligible dependent of an Employee of a contributing employer; and
  • The Employee’s contributing employer must meet the requirements for contributions to the Fund; and
  • You must be 21 years of age or under; and
  • Be a recent high school graduate (or received your GED) with a GPA of 3.0 or higher (A/B average); OR
  • Be a current Higher Learning Institution student with a GPA of 2.7 or higher

In addition, there are varying rules for those who are new applicants and renewal applicants. Applicants are required to submit certain documentation along with their applications in order to be considered for an award.


  • Scholarship applications can be downloaded from this page, or you can text STEP Fund at 301-587-0826 or email [email protected] for help.
  • All scholarship applications must be accompanied by the required documentation listed on the application, or the application will be considered incomplete.
  • All applicants will receive notification about the Scholarship Committee’s decision on their award as soon as possible and in accordance with the dates released each year. Please check back on this site by March 31st each year to see the applicable dates for your application.


The Board of Trustees of the STEP Fund determines the amount of the individual award based on a variety of factors. While no single factor is deciding, the Board considers the individual applicant’s cost of overall tuition, any additional scholarships or funding received, credit load, half-time or full-time enrollment, good academic standing, and any other relevant factors.

The STEP Fund’s Scholarship Award Benefit program is competitive, so not all who apply will receive an award, and not all who receive an award will get the same amount.

Scholarship Program FAQ

For complete rules or for further questions please contact [email protected] or text 301-876-4419

  • To sponsor you must:

    • Be currently employed by a participating UNITE HERE Local 23 partner employer
    • Have had contributions paid into STEP Fund for at least 12 months out of the last 18 months by your contributing employer
    • Work for an employer that contributes to the training fund
  • All new applicants must be 21 or under, and are either:

    • A high school senior with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, or, a recent GED student with a B average
    • A university student with a GPA of 2.7 or higher
  • Scholarship winners may receive up to 3 annual renewal awards, for a total of 4 academic years (8 semesters) of support. All awards must be made within a 6-year period. You are eligible for a renewal if you won a previous scholarship and you:

    • Have a sponsor who meets the criteria eligibility above
    • Have maintained a college GPA of 2.7 or better. (Exceptions may be made. (Contact us for details)
    • Are under the age of 26
  • Yes. The committee does look at special circumstances. You should include a letter with your application to explain a lower GPA and how your plans to improve.

  • No. This is a competition.

  • Yes, you can reapply the following year!

  • Students must enroll for at least a ½ credit load per their university’s assessment of full time study for each semester they receive the award. Individual awards are pro-rated based on credit load, with the maximum amount available only to full-time students.

    • The scholarship is for tuition and related fees only
    • Your university or college must be an accredited not-for profit 2- or 4-year college or university. (Exceptions are made on a case by case basis for accredited postsecondary for-profit schools. Please contact us.)
    • Payment goes directly to the university only—no reimbursements or payments are made to students or their families
  • This is a year-long scholarship with applications accepted once a year in June. Disbursements are made for the semester, so you must submit an invoice for each semester being covered.

  • The maximum you can receive is $2000 per semester for a total of $4000 per year. We take into consideration whether other awards you receive can be applied to other expenses, such as costs of living, books, meal plans, etc. Your award may be reduced based on this.

  • All applications that are submitted by the deadline are assessed by a scholarship committee composed of current or past professors, teachers, and academics.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute to ask your teacher for a letter! Your teacher should email a recommendation letter directly to the scholarship coordinator, and if possible send it from a work email address. DO NOT cut and paste the letter or send it yourself. Please see the instructions with the application.

  • You can ask the director to have the committee review its decision. You may be asked to submit additional documentation that might help the committee.