Scholarship Fund Expands Awards


For the past 15 years, the James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Fund has assisted the sons and daughters of Teamster members with financial support for their education. Begun in 2001, the fund’s creation was inspired by Teamster General President Emeritus James R. Hoffa’s belief that every child deserves access to a good education.

More than $5.5 million has been awarded since the fund’s beginning due to the generous contributions of Teamster affiliates, labor unions and others.

In 2016, the fund plans to award $1.2 million in funds for academic scholarships, the most it has ever disbursed. The fund’s board recognized that higher education costs have grown dramatically over the years, and coupled with the successful fundraising projects that occur each year, the board felt that it was time to expand the number of scholarship awards.

“Awarding scholarships to students in need of financial support is the main reason why we work so hard to raise funds each year,” said W.C. Smith, chairman of the fund.

Each year, $10,000 scholarships are awarded to applicants from each region of the union along with $1,000 “bootstrap” awards and $1,000 essay contest awards. Eligible applicants must be the son, daughter or financial dependent of the Teamster member (including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen [BLET], Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employes Division [BMWED] and the Graphic Communications Conference [GCC]).

Vocational School Awards

The scholarship fund plans to implement $100,000 in awards for students planning to pursue vocational degrees as part of the overall $1.2 million goal. This addition came about after discussions with local unions and the scholarship committee about how to diversify funding recipients.

“We understand that not every student plans or wants to attend a traditional, four-year college,” Smith said. “Dedicating $100,000 to vocational training, whether it’s a certificate course for truck driving, home health care or another industry, we want to support these endeavors, too.”

A former winner of a $10,000 scholarship, Kim Van Truong, spoke at last year’s fundraising event and said, “My parents worked tirelessly to provide for me and my two sisters and worked hard to save up money to put us through college. I was able to use the scholarship to pay for two years of my tuition which alleviated a huge financial burden on my parents.”

The application forms for the scholarship are available now on or by calling the scholarship fund office at (202) 624-6800 or by e-mailing The deadline for applications is March 31, 2016.