Educational Institutions

Carson Scholars Fund, Inc.

Discovering Promise... Rewarding Excellence

aka CSF

Towson, MD


The Carson Scholars Fund supports two main initiatives: Carson Scholars Program and the Ben Carson Reading Project. The scholarship program awards students in grades 4-11 who exemplify high academic excellence and humanitarian qualities with scholarships for college. The Ben Carson Reading Project initiative creates inviting and exciting reading rooms in schools for students to discover the joy of independent reading.

Ruling Year



Dr. Nancy Grasmick

Executive Director

Mrs. Amy E. Warner

Main Address

305 W Chesapeake Ave Suite 310

Towson, MD 21204 USA


children, youth, education, reading, scholarship, investing, academic achievement, literacy





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Scholarships, Student Financial Aid, Awards (B82)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

Remedial Reading, Reading Encouragement (B92)

IRS Filing Requirement

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Programs + Results

What we aim to solve New!

The Carson Scholars Fund was founded in 1994 to address the education crisis in the United States. When retired world-renowned Johns Hopkins Pediatric Neurosurgeon Benjamin S. Carson, M.D. and his wife, Candy, read a study about education in the U.S., they were alarmed by the findings. The study showed that our nation's students ranked #21 out of 22 countries; next to the bottom of the list in science and math. Furthermore, the Carsons observed that many school's display cases were filled with trophies paying tribute to their sports teams' achievements, while honor students only received a pin or certificate. Dr. and Mrs. Carson believed that if children could be taught early to excel, they would stay motivated and have a higher chance of educational success later in life. CSF accomplishes this task through the Carson Scholars Program the Ben Carson Reading Project.

Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Ben Carson Reading Project

Carson Scholars Program

Where we workNew!

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

The Carson Scholars Fund (CSF) has two main educational initiatives. The first, the Carson Scholars Program, aims to identify and reward the best and brightest students in grades 4-11 across the country. By recognizing students as early as fourth grade who excel academically and who also display humanitarian qualities, the CSF promotes a college bound culture in schools and provides guidance to the nation's next generation of leaders.
The second mission, the Ben Carson Reading Project, raises awareness of the importance of everyday, leisure reading. Reading rooms are built in schools across the country and encourage lifelong literacy and learning and help young children develop their reading skills. Development of reading rooms, the initiative of the Ben Carson Reading Project, is part of the Carson Scholars Fund's long-term plan to impact education and promote early-grade literacy.

Carson Scholars Program:
The purpose of the Carson Scholars Program is to recognize and reward outstanding students in the United States enrolled in grades 4-11 who exemplify academic excellence and humanitarian qualities. We do this by awarding Carson Scholars with a $1,000 scholarship invested towards a four-year college or university, an Olympic-sized medal and certificate, and an invitation to a regional recognition ceremony. Their schools receive a trophy to be displayed proudly at the school. The aim is to add value to academic achievements and to refocus the spotlight on education; too often athletic achievements are recognized more than academic success. The goal of the Carson Scholars Program goes beyond instilling an interest in college early and assisting with the costs of college. Carson Scholars are role models in their schools. They encourage other students to strive for excellence and serve as peer role models. The Carson Scholars Recognition Program affirms the prestigious status of Carson Scholars in their pursuit of academic and career goals. This elite honor continues to recognize previous scholars who still meet the high expectations of Carson Scholars. Scholars are honored with a special recognition package consisting of notification of their scholar status renewal, a commemorative pin to attach to the ribbon of their original medal, and a certificate of achievement. Schools will continue to receive a trophy (or nameplate) to recognize the scholars who have been recognized through this program each year.
Ben Carson Reading Project:
The goal of the Ben Carson Reading Project is to create a literacy-enriched environment in schools for children to develop their reading skills. The reading project is dedicated to combatting illiteracy and promoting leisure reading as a key to unlocking a child's potential. The CSF accomplishes this by providing funding and support to schools to build reading rooms. The reading rooms are filled with hundreds of books for students to explore a variety of authors, topics, and genres. The reading room is decorated with attractive, eye-catching artwork based on Dr. Carson's "THINK BIG" philosophy. The cozy, nurturing environment encourages students and their families to come together to recognize the importance of everyday, leisure reading. While many students have the opportunity to visit the school library, most of the time spent in the library is devoted to curricula instruction, researching a subject, or writing book reports. For many students a visit to the library is an arduous task rather than a pleasant experience. The Ben Carson Reading Project allows schools the opportunity to purchase high-interest reading materials. In addition, students rarely have an opportunity to select their reading materials in a classroom setting. In the reading room, students have the freedom to choose their own books. When students choose what they read, they will read more.

Carson Scholars Program:
The Carson Scholars Program is available to any accredited school in the United States that applies to participate in our program. The CSF maintains an updated distribution list of all the schools from across the country that have applied to participate in the Carson Scholars Program. Each fall, educators from the schools on the distribution list are sent nomination materials with instructions on how to nominate one student, unless otherwise told, to apply for the scholarship. Within 48 hours of nomination, the student will receive an email with a secured link to the online application which is due in January. Applications include the student's information, a current report card, details about the student's community service, an essay and a recommendation letter written by up to three teachers. Applications are scored on a 23 point scale by a panel of qualified judges. Winner and non-winner scholars and schools are notified come March. Each Carson Scholar is then invited with their family to the closest regional awards ceremony where they are celebrated and recognized for their achievement. After the ceremony, each school is sent a trophy or nameplate with the scholars name to proudly display at the school in a trophy case. Our state of the art contact management system along with our various regional chapters and expansion coordinators allow the Carson Scholars Program to be scaled nationally.
Ben Carson Reading Project:
Once funding is secured for a reading room, a thorough vetting of schools in the area is conducted. The CSF looks for a school with available space for a reading room and dedicated and enthusiastic staff members to ensure long-term success of the room. Reading room project committees are established at the school and work to make all aspects of the project come to fruition: books, furniture and decor, incentives, and planning for the opening day ceremony. School committees prepare orders for books, furniture, decorations, and incentives to use in the reading room. The CSF reviews, approves, and provides direct payment for all orders. After the room is created, the school plans an opening day and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of their reading room. Donors, stakeholders, and prominent community members are invited to attend the ceremony.

The Carson Scholars Fund recently concluded a longitudinal evaluation research study funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and conducted by Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA). FERA has been conducting and submitting research report outcomes since 2009. Outcomes from this report have highlighted the importance and positive impact that the Carson Scholars Fund has on students across the country. To access all current and past reports, please visit or contact the Carson Scholars Fund. In addition to the FERA Evaluation Reports, the Carson Scholars Fund maintains relationships with Carson Scholar Alumni after they graduate high school. These relationships are kept through alumni events, fundraising events, and the adopt-a-scholar program where each staff member regularly checks in with scholars and alumni.
The CSF monitors the progress of the Ben Carson Reading Project by requiring reading room school partners to complete a reading room report twice a year. The report is designed to collect data regarding the frequency of room use and how schools are utilizing their reading rooms. Data from the reports are reviewed by CSF reading room staff to monitor the health of the reading rooms and to evaluate and modify the program. Throughout the year, the CSF staff also engages in email and telephone outreach to school partners to gain feedback and updates on reading rooms.

The Carson Scholars Program and the Ben Carson Reading Project have accomplished much success over the CSF's 21 years of existence. As of 2017, CSF has awarded nearly 8,000 scholarships in all 50 states and Washington, DC. Over 620 colleges and universities have (or had) Carson Scholars. The CSF has an alumni network of over 4,400 individuals (scholars old enough to have graduated from high school). More than $5 million dollars have been paid out to colleges or universities on behalf of the scholars. One of the goals of the Carson Scholars Program since CSF's inception was to have a Carson Scholar in every school in the country. Each year the CSF continues to expand its reach so that each school across the U.S. has a Carson Scholar.
The Ben Carson Reading Project that was established in 2000 has grown from just one reading room in Aberdeen, MD to over 170 reading rooms in 22 states and Washington, DC. The reading project has had tremendous success in overall literacy among schools. Outcomes have included overall improved reading skills, increased time reading, increased love of reading, increased motivation and belief in one's “own success", and an increased desire to learn among reading room readers. The Ben Carson Reading Project also continues to expand its reach and strives to have a presence in each state across the U.S.

External Reviews



Carson Scholars Fund, Inc.

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable


Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable


Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable