Pillars of Strength Program logo

The Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program honors the exceptional sacrifices of the family and non-family volunteer caregivers of our nation's injured servicemembers. Because this extraordinary commitment often causes caregivers to delay their personal pursuits, the fund was established to assist them in achieving their educational goals. The Pillars of Strength program is supported and managed by the Yellow Ribbon Fund and The Blewitt Foundation, each serving the severely wounded and their families, in association with UMUC, a global provider of higher education to our nation's military since 1947.

The program kicked off in April 2013 with the awarding of three UMUC scholarships to dedicated caregivers, and in April 2015, two more individuals were recognized for their service to injured family members. Read the inspiring stories of Emily Ball, Danielle Kelly, and Beverly Poyer from 2013 and Vanessa Engelhardt and Michelle Yi from 2015.

In September 2015, Danielle Kelly completed her MBA at UMUC. Read about how life has changed for her and her new husband, Taylor Morris, since she was awarded the scholarship.

Are you a volunteer caregiver for an injured servicemember? Find out if you qualify for the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program and apply now. The application deadline for the 2016–2017 academic year is Monday, February 29, 2016.

See how the Pillars of Strength Scholarship Program can help create better futures for these deserving families.


Watch More Videos

Vanessa Engelhardt video

Scholarship winner Vanessa Engelhardt shares her story "to help other caregivers and wounded veterans know there is hope for a different tomorrow."

Michelle Yi

Michelle Yi says the Pillars of Strength scholarship "gives me hope and strength for the future."

Kimberly Dozier video

CNN's Kimberly Dozier, who was herself severely injured covering the war in Iraq in 2006, salutes volunteer caregivers. "By what they do every day, they teach us how to be better Americans and better people."

Vanessa and Eric Engelhardt video

Vanessa Engelhardt says the Pillars of Strength scholarship gives her a "huge opportunity." Her husband Eric Engelhardt agrees, "It's her time—she's earned it."

How You Can Help

Your gift to the Pillars of Strength Scholarship program can help make a positive impact in the lives of family members and friends who serve our country by serving their military loved ones. Up to five scholarships—covering full tuition, fees and books—will be awarded each academic year to eligible candidates. Consider making a gift today.

Apply Now

Photo Gallery: Supporting Volunteer Caregivers of Injured Service Members

Pillars of Strength 2015

On April 25, 2015, two more caregivers—Vanessa Engelhardt and Michelle Li—were honored at a special ceremony at the National Press Club and awarded Pillars of Strength Scholarships. (L to R): Mark Robbins, executive director of the Yellow Ribbon Fund; Vanessa Engelhardt, scholarship recipient; Kimberly Dozier, CNN global affairs analyst and keynote speaker; Michelle Yi, scholarship recipient; Javier Miyares, UMUC president; and Richard F. Blewitt, president of The Blewitt Foundation. View more photos.

Previous Pillars of Strength Recipients

Meet the original three recipients of the Pillars of Strength Scholarship and the soldiers they care for: (L to R) Jessie Fletcher, Emily Ball, Beverly Poyer, Danielle Kelly, and Taylor Morris. Poyer's daughter, Brianna, is front and center. View more photos.