National Scholarships and Awards

Program Background

The JACL has been helping students achieve their educational dreams with the National Scholarship and Awards Program since 1946.  The program currently offers over 30 awards, with an annual total of over $70,000 in scholarships to qualified students nationwide.

The National Scholarship and Awards Program offer scholarships to students at the entering freshman, undergraduate, graduate, law, financial need and creative & performing arts. All scholarships are one-time awards. 


Every applicant must be an active National JACL member. JACL Membership is open to everyone of any ethnic background. All who meet eligibility criteria are welcomed and encouraged to apply. Note: applicants need to hold an Individual or  Student/Youth Membership (Couple/Family membership by a parent will not meet this requirement). You may join/renew online here

Applicants must be planning to attend full time at a college, university, trade school, business school, or any other institution of higher learning within the United States at the undergraduate or graduate school level in the fall of 2015.  Students deferring enrollment will not qualify for the 2015 scholarship program.

Applicants may apply under only one scholarship category. The exception to this rule is that students may apply for consideration for the student aid awards in addition to another category. However, a successful applicant will only receive the higher of the two awards applied for.

Entering Freshman applicants must be high school seniors.  Creative & Performing Arts applicants cannot be professional artists. 

Past recipients of JACL scholarships or awards are limited to a total of two awards.

Application Materials

Only one application need be submitted to qualify for all awards listed in that same category. Applications will be reviewed for award preferences noted in the brochure.

The following is a condensed list of supporting documents required to complete a JACL Scholarship Application: JACL Membership; Personal Statement; Letter of Recommendation; Official Transcripts including SAT and/or ACT test score verification; Work Experience; and Community Involvement.


For additional information regarding the JACL National Scholarship

Program, please contact Patty Wada at (415) 345-1075 or


           Freshman Application (PDF | Word)
          General Application (PDF | Word)
           Creative & Performing Arts Application (PDF | Word)
           Scholarship Guidelines (PDF)
           Scholarship Brochure (PDF)


November 2014
Applications are available through local JACL regional offices, National JACL Headquarters & web site.

March 1, 2015
Entering Freshman applications must be postmarked and mailed to your local JACL chapters.  Applications must be complete (3 copies) and accompanied by ALL supporting documents.

April 1, 2015
JACL chapters must submit only their most outstanding Freshman applications to the National Freshman Scholarship Committee, c/o San Diego JACL, 6917 Town View Lane, San Diego, CA 92120, postmarked no later than this date.

All other applications (undergraduate, graduate, law, arts and student aid) must be postmarked and mailed to the JACL National Scholarship Committee, c/o Washington, DC JACL (address listed on the application).  Applications must be complete (3 copies) and accompanied by all supporting documents.

August 2015
Scholarship award recipients will be notified.

Scholarship Categories & Descriptions

Entering Freshman Awards

Patricia and Gail Ishimoto Memorial Scholarship - Established by Harry K. and Tomoko Ishimoto, in memory of their two daughters who passed away together in an auto accident in January 1969, both were students at Dorsey High School in Los Angeles.

Kenji Kasai Memorial Scholarship - Mr. Kasai was the long time head of the Nikko Kasai Securities located in San Francisco, California.  As a prominent leader of the Japanese community and an avid supporter of the JACL, Mr. Kasai was very active in the fight for Issei naturalization rights.

Mitsugi Murakami Kasai (Ret.) Memorial Scholarship – This award was established by the estate of Mitsugi Murakami Kasai, aka “Casey,” who was a dedicated and loyal soldier.   An Army veteran, he graduated from the MIS language school and later underwent counter intelligence training.  He served as a Special Agent in Japan, Okinawa, Vietnam, Korea and the U.S.   As his parents aged, Mr. Kasai retired to tenderly care for them until their passing.  He was a passionate crusader for the military, veterans and the Nikkei community.  A man who rarely minced words, he was active with the MIS, JAVA, Go For Broke, JACL, JANM, NJAHS and the Salt Lake Japanese Christian Church.  

Henry & Chiyo Kuwahara Memorial Scholarship - This award was established by the estate of Henry and Chiyo Kuwahara.  Mr. Kuwahara, a resident of Los Angeles, was a well-known investment and securities broker in Little Tokyo.

Sam & Florice Kuwahara Memorial Scholarship – This scholarship was created in 2009, upon the passing of Florice Kuwahara by the terms of her Trust. Sam and Florice Kuwahara were active in farming in the Livingston, California area and its local JACL chapter. Although they had no children of their own, Sam and Florice believed in the importance of education for the young.

Mr. & Mrs. Takashi Moriuchi Scholarship - This award was established in 1975 by Takashi and Yuriko Moriuchi.  Mr. Moriuchi, a successful fruit farmer, is the past New Jersey State Director of the United States Department of Agriculture Farmers Home Administration and Mrs. Moriuchi, a Professor of Ikebana, in the first grade, is president of the American Guild of Flower Arrangers.  Originally from California, the Moriuchis currently reside in Medford, New Jersey.

Hanayagi Rokumie Memorial Japanese Cultural ScholarshipThis award was established in 2006 in memory of Hanayagi Rokumie, a noted teacher of Japanese dance.  The award is made to a student who excels in any Japanese Cultural Activity (such as: nihon buyo (Japanese Classical Dance), Japanese Classical Instruments (shamisen, koto, shakuhachi, taiko), ikebana (flower arrangement), Chado (tea ceremony), or Japanese Martial Arts (aikido, karate, judo kendo, etc.)

Shigeki “Shake” Ushio Memorial Scholarship - This award was established in 2005 by Ushio Family .  In 1943, to assist Japanese Americans whose assets had been frozen or restricted during World War II, Shake Ushio helped found the National JACL Credit Union. He was Chairman of the Board for the credit union for over thirty years.

Deni & June Uejima Memorial Scholarship - The Uejima's were very committed to the Japanese American community. They were long-time members of the San Gabriel Valley JACL and Deni served multiple terms as the chapter's president. They bequested this endowment to reach out to the community's young leaders.

Mush and Haru Kuroiwa Scholarship - Mush Kuroiwa, a longtime resident of Spokane, Washington, was a successful entrepreneur and leader in his Rotary Club. Haru, an active civic leader and volunteer, established this scholarship to honor her late husband and to help youth pursue their educational dreams. Mush and Haru are held in high regard and cherished by the community for their dedication to helping others. They believed that education and giving back to their community are the foundation to one’s success and happiness.

Undergraduate Awards

Kyutaro & Yasuo Abiko Memorial Scholarship - This award was established in honor of the late Kyutaro and Yasuo Abiko.  Mr. Abiko was a prominent leader of the San Francisco Japanese American community and editor of the Nichi Bei Times newspaper.  Preference for this award will be given to a student studying journalism or agriculture.

Alice Yuriko Endo Memorial Scholarship - Established by the Endo family, Mrs. Endo was an active member of the Washington D.C. JACL chapter.  An avid supporter of social causes, Mrs. Endo and her son, Todd, proudly marched in the original Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C.  Preference for this scholarship will be given to a student residing in the Eastern District Council and/or a student with an interest in public and social service.

Kenji Kajiwara Memorial Scholarship – This scholarship was established as a perpetual trust by Mrs. Chibako Kajiwara in memory of her husband.  Mr. and Mrs. Kajiwara deeply believed in the value and necessity of higher education to discover, encourage and develop the inherent potential of our youth.

Saburo Kido Memorial Scholarship - A founder of the JACL, Mr. Kido was one of the architects of the National JACL structure and its constitution.  Mr. Kido’s service to the JACL spanned over fifty years, in which he served as National President during WWII. 

Henry & Chiyo Kuwahara Scholarship - This award was established by the estate of Henry and Chiyo Kuwahara.  Mr. Kuwahara, a resident of Los Angeles, was a well-known investment and securities broker in Little Tokyo.

Shigeru "Shig" Nakahira Memorial Scholarship - A long-time JACL member, Shig was described as a good and helpful friend, a 442 veteran, a capable accountant, an excellent bowler, and a quiet doer of good deeds. This memorial award was established by the Nakahira family in 2009.

Dr. Thomas T. Yatabe Memorial Scholarship - This scholarship was established in honor of Dr. Thomas T. Yatabe, the first elected National President of the JACL.

Graduate Awards

Magoichi & Shizuko Kato Memorial Scholarship - Originally from Peru, the Kato family settled in Los Angeles, California where they owned a successful grocery business.  This award was established by Mrs. Kato in memory of her husband.  Preference for this award will be given to a student planning a career in medicine or ministry.

Henry & Chiyo Kuwahara Memorial Scholarship - This award was established by the estate of Henry and Chiyo Kuwahara.  Mr. Kuwahara, a resident of Los Angeles, was a well-known investment and securities broker in Little Tokyo.

Railroad and Mine Workers Memorial Scholarship - Established by the families of Japanese American railroad and mine workers to pay tribute to the lives of these Issei and Nisei pioneers.  This scholarship memorializes the story of these workers, who were fired from their jobs after the outbreak of World War II and their children’s successful fight for recognition and justice decades later.

Dr. Kiyoshi Sonoda Memorial Scholarship  - A graduate of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry, Dr. Sonoda established a successful dental practice in Los Angeles.  Dr. Sonoda was an active member of the JACL beginning in 1945, in which he was one of the first life members of the One Thousand Club and a past president of the West Los Angeles JACL chapter.  This scholarship is restricted to students studying in the field of dentistry.

Chiyoko and Thomas Shimazaki Scholarship  - Mr. Shimazaki was an active member of the Greater Los Angeles chapter, bringing forth singles concerns to the national organization.  This award is given to a student planning a career in the medical field.

Reverend H. John Yamashita Memorial Scholarship  - Reverend Yamashita, prior to WWII was pastor of the Oakland West 10th Methodist Church.  A native of Oakland, California, Reverend Yamashita founded a hostel for Japanese Americans returning to the West Coast after internment.  He went to pastor at the Centenary Methodist Church in Los Angeles, until his retirement in 1966.

Minoru Yasui Memorial Scholarship  - A civil rights advocate and attorney, Minoru Yasui was one of the three Nisei who challenged the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during WWII.  After the war, Mr. Yasui practiced law and served as legal counsel dozens of community activities.  In 1979, Mr. Yasui was appointed chair of the JACL Committee on Redress, in which he traveled extensively around the country advocating for redress and reparations.  Preference for this scholarship will be given to students with a strong interest in Human Rights and Civil Rights.  Fields of study may include sociology, law or education.

Law Scholarships

GraceAndow Memorial ScholarshipMs. Andow, a longtime member of the Cleveland Chapter, established this scholarship in her will.  She was a wedding planner who later studied to be a legal secretary.  She gave her enthusiasm, ability and volunteered almost all of her spare time to the JACL.

Thomas T. Hayashi Memorial Scholarship - The Eastern District Council in memory of Thomas Hayashi, an outstanding Nisei civil rights advocate and attorney in international law, established the award.   It was Mr. Hayashi’s philosophy to encourage other Nikkei to enter the legal profession as a means of securing justice for the disadvantaged.

Sho Sato Memorial Scholarship - Sho Sato, a Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, was one of the nation’s most prominent scholars of local governmental law.  Mr. Sato was known as a leading figure in promoting relations between law schools in Japan and the United States.

Mary Reiko Osaka Memorialy Scholarship – Ms. Osaka was a graduate of the University of California Hastings College of Law and was the first Asian American woman to serve as district counsel for the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service.

Special Awards

Abe and Esther Hagiwara Student Aid Award  - Founded to provide financial assistance to a student who otherwise would have to delay or terminate his/ her education due to a lack of financing.  Only applicants that exhibit severe financial need will be considered for this award.

Aiko Susanna Tashiro Hiratsuka Memorial Scholarship  - Established in memory of pianist Aiko Hiratsuka.  This scholarship is awarded to a student studying in the performing arts.  Professional artists are not eligible to apply.

Henry and Chiyo Kuwahara Creative Arts Award - Established to encourage creative projects that reflect the Japanese American experience and cultural representation.  All technical work of the applicant should be university level.  Professional artists are not eligible to apply.

Dr. George Goro and Nettie Muramoto Memorial Scholarship – Dr. and Mrs. Muramoto were longtime residents of Sacramento, CA. Goro graduated from UC Berkeley and UCSF School of Dentistry. He served as president of the Sacramento JACL from 1941-1943. He, along with his chapter board, provided leadership and guidance to the local Japanese American community during a time of great prejudice and injustice. Guided by the Yamato-damashi spirit, Goro strived for the American dream of equality, human dignity and happiness for all. Nettie was raised in Stockton, CA. She was one of the first Nisei (second generation JA) on the California State payroll in the mid-1930s as a stenographer at the DMV in Sacramento. She lived her life with dignity, grace and kindness. Preference for this award shall be a student who demonstrates financial need and/or is a graduate student.

Bottom Nav Area