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Matthew Henson Scholarship

The PolarExplorers' Matthew Henson Scholarship honors the legacy of polar explorer Matthew Henson (1866-1955) by inspiring people of color - in particular emerging outdoor guides or people with current or future positions of leadership in the outdoor industry - to embrace cold weather adventures, and to build the necessary skill set to thrive (and not just survive) during cold weather expedition travel. 

One two-year scholarship is awarded annually that provides two consecutive years of fully subsidized participation on PolarExplorer's Polar Shakedown Training (typically the first week of February in northern Minnesota). This training combines hands-on instruction with one-on-one feedback from world-class polar guides to prepare adventurers for future cold weather backcountry experiences and expeditions. The first year scholar will focus primarily on skill development and reflection on how best to implement these skills in an outdoor program. The second year scholar will focus on leadership development by mentoring the first-year scholar and by being an assistant member of the Polar Shakedown Training's guide team. 

This scholarship is open to all people of color who are passionate about wilderness travel and outdoor leadership, aspire to have a career in the outdoor industry, and who are looking to increase their skill set to include cold weather camping. Qualified applicants should have previous experience with backcountry camping, the desire to inspire others, a strong commitment to developing positive relationships, an appetite for a steep learning curve, and a level of fitness that can accommodate long days of hard work. 

Recipients of the scholarship will need to complete additional paperwork. Travel to and from the starting location of the training is not included in the scholarship. Personal clothing and equipment is not included, though we can help you source some of the required items. 

Applications are accepted annually between September 1 and December 1. All applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and recipients will be notified of their acceptance by December 15th annually. 

Apply here!

Matthew Henson was a remarkable explorer and possibly the first person to stand at the North Pole. He embodied the traits and characteristics that define the world's most successful adventurers. With his wide-ranging knowledge and passion for learning he developed a vast skill set that led to the success of many expeditions. Because he was African American he did not receive the recognition he was due until well after he died. His legacy lives on in the countless people who have been inspired by his life. 

We are very grateful to SouthCol for their generous support of the Matthew Henson Scholarship!

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