National Scholarship Program

2021 Scholarships Available Now!

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 who are entering freshman, undergraduate, graduate, law, in the creative & performing arts, and those with financial need.  All scholarships are one-time awards.

As of the new 2021 scholarship cycle, the National JACL Scholarship Program will now be totally online!  This means all of the applications can be done on your computer/tablet through the online application form and submitted online.  NO MAILING REQUIRED!  As such there will be some new guidelines and changes which you can find listed below in the 2021 Scholarship Guidelines document and on the applications themselves. Also note, the applications will NOT save if you close or reload your window, so please fill them out in one sitting!

Please note:  In addition to the National JACL Scholarship Program, many JACL chapters administer their own local scholarship programs.  To find out if your chapter offers additional scholarships or if you’d like to ask questions and recieve insight for National Scholarships please see the list here! If you chapter’s scholarship contact is not listed, please find your chapter’s website and contact information here.


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 must hold an Individual or  Student/Youth Membership.  A Couple/Family membership by a parent will not meet this requirement. Join or renew your membership.

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 2021.  Students deferring enrollment will not qualify for the 2021 scholarship program.

Applicants may apply under only one scholarship category.  The exception to this rule is that students may apply for consideration for the financial 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 National scholarships 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; Work Experience; and JACL and Community Involvement.

Due to COVID-19, JACL staff is under “shelter-in-place” orders.  Those students who join the JACL in the months prior to the scholarship deadline and are unable to access their membership I.D. number from our Membership Department must: include a membership payment receipt with your application.  Students are automatically sent a receipt when submitting payment online.

With the change to the new online format, JACL will be accepting e-transcripts or PDF/JPG/PNG copies of transcripts and letters of recommendation.  The rules for how to submit your transcripts or letters of recommendation can be found in the 2021 Scholarship guidelines document listed below as well as on the applications themselves.

For additional information regarding the JACL National Scholarship Program, please contact JACL Scholarship Program Manager Matthew Weisbly at

Applications, Brochure & Guidelines


December 2020 – Applications are available here on the JACL National website.

March 1, 2021 –Entering Freshman applications must be completed no later than this date at 11:59 p.m. Hawaiian Standard Time (HST).  Applications must be complete and accompanied by ALL supporting documents.  Incomplete application packets will NOT be considered.

April 1, 2021 – JACL chapters must send the names of ONLY their most outstanding freshman applicants to no later than this date at 11:59 p.m. Hawaiian Standard Time (HST)

April 1, 2021– All other applications (undergraduate, graduate, law, arts and financial aid) must be submitted no later than 11:59 p.m. Hawaiian Standard Time (HST) on this date.  Applications must be complete and accompanied by ALL supporting documents.  Incomplete application packets will NOT be considered.

Late August 2021 – 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 American 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 the late Henry and Chiyo Kuwahara.  Mr. Kuwahara, a resident of Los Angeles, was a well-known investment and securities broker in Little Tokyo.   Due to the Kuwaharas’ strong belief in youth and the value of education, their estate funds a number of JACL scholarships.

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 (Japanese flower arrangement), is president of the American Guild of Flower Arrangers.  Originally from California, Yuriko Moriuchi currently resides 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 classical dance.  The award is given 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.).

Deni & June Uejima Memorial Scholarship – The Uejimas 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 bequeathed this endowment to reach out to and support the community’s young leaders.

Undergraduate Awards

Kyutaro & Yasuo Abiko Memorial Scholarship – This award was established in honor of the late Kyutaro and Yasuo Abiko.  Mr. Yasuo 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 historic Civil Rights March in Washington, D.C.  in 1964.  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 the trying and tumultuous times of World War II and the incarceration.

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.  Due to the Kuwaharas’ strong belief in youth and the value of education, their estate funds a number of JACL scholarships.

Shigeki “Shake” Ushio Memorial Scholarship – This undergraduate/graduate award was established in 2004 by the 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.

Shigeru “Shig” Nakahira Memorial Scholarship – A long-time JACL member, Shig was described as a good and helpful friend, a 442nd 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

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. Due to the Kuwaharas’ strong belief in youth and the value of education, their estate funds a number of JACL scholarships.

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.   He brought the concerns and challenges facing single individuals to the attention of the national organization.  This award is given to a student planning a career in the medical field.

Dr. Newton K. Wesley (born Uyesugi) Memorial Scholarship – This award is being offered to a student pursuing a career in eye care (optometry, medical, or a scientific research field) to honor Dr. Newton K. Wesley.  He is often cited for developing the first commercially-successful rigid contact lens in an attempt to cure his own impending blindness.  His research work ultimately helped to save the sight of millions.  Dr. Wesley was a contact lens pioneer, lecturer, writer, educator, clinician and inventor.

Reverend H. John & Asako Yamashita Memorial Scholarship  – John and Asako Yamashita graduated from UC Berkeley.  In 1942, they were imprisoned with their families in the Topaz concentration camp.  Following the war, John opened a hostel at the West Tenth Methodist Church in Oakland for returning Japanese Americans, and Asako helped reopen the family market, Uoki Sakai, in San Francisco.  John and Asako married and together supported the work of the West Tenth Methodist Church and later the Centenary Methodist Church in Los Angeles.  Asako served as an elementary school teacher for many years.  This scholarship supports graduate studies for students concerned with education, social justice, and service to their communities.

Minoru Yasui Memorial Scholarship  – A civil rights advocate and attorney, Minoru Yasui was one of the four Nisei who challenged the imprisonment of Japanese Americans during WWII.  After the war, Mr. Yasui practiced law and served as legal counsel for dozens of community organizations and 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

Grace Andow 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 become a legal secretary.  She shared her enthusiasm and abilities with others, and volunteered almost all of her spare time with 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 this award in his honor.   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 and fostering relations between law schools in Japan and the United States.

Special Awards

Abe and Esther Hagiwara Financial Aid Award  – This scholarship was established 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 noted pianist Aiko Hiratsuka.  This scholarship is awarded to a student studying in the performing arts.  Professional artists are not eligible to apply for this award.

Henry and Chiyo Kuwahara Creative Arts Award – This scholarship was established to encourage creative projects that reflect the Japanese American experience and cultural representation.  All technical work of the applicant should be at the 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, California. 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, California. 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.

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