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College of Education

Teaching For Change

Wilson Riles Memorial Scholarship

About the Sponsor

This scholarship has been established in memory of Wilson C. Riles who believed in children. For more than 50 years, he developed and taught programs to help students succeed academically. “A commitment to children is an investment in the future,” he said

Riles was superintendent of public instruction for the state of California from 1971 to 1983. He won three statewide elections by earning the respect and support of black and white voters. Much of his success has been based on his ability to mobilize community and government support for his programs.

His greatest accomplishment as superintendent was in implementing an early-childhood education program. It was so effective that it became a national model. Four U.S. presidents noticed his innovative programs, each of whom enlisted him as an adviser on national education issues.

In addition to his many awards he held nine honorary doctorates from prestigious colleges and universities throughout the United States. Riles was honored in 1973 with the Spingarn Medal, the highest award of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Riles’ advice to students as well as to community leaders was to “make a difference, make a contribution.” He believed that successful individuals have a responsibility to serve as role models to children. That dedication to sharing a knowledge of success and fostering an awareness of limitless opportunity lives on through this scholarship.





  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Limited to students accepted or enrolled in any College of Education credential program
  • Financial need may be considered but is not required
  • Must be enrolled with no minimum requirement at time of award

Supplemental Materials

  • Submit a personal statement (typed, two-pages, double- spaced) to include: a. Reasons for pursuing teaching b. Methods of financing your education and how you would use scholarship funds c. Future career objectives.
  • Submit a list of experiences related to working with children or youth beginning with the most recent. List dates, settings, student populations (age/grade level and diversity level), responsibilities, and supervision.
  • Two letters of recommendation are required. Letters must be on letterhead and no older than one year from date of scholarship application submission, and should be relevant to your educational endeavors (please scan letters together in one document, as the program only allows you to download one document).