The Kemper Building
Kemper Scholars and then-President and Executive Director Dr. Thomas Hellie gathered at Kemper Corporations Long Grove , Illinois headquarters in summer 2000, when James S. Kemper, Jr., spoke to the Scholars who were working there in internships that summer. Mr. Kemper had given a talk to the Scholars for many years. Summer, 2000 was the final time that his health permitted him to do so; he died in the summer of 2002.
"Education is a kind of insurance. It enables the individual to draw on the experiences of the many to live with integrity, dignity, and usefulness."
James Scott Kemper, 1967

In 1912, James Scott Kemper founded an insurance company based on responsibility, understanding, and integrity – values which ever after marked the Kemper Insurance Companies. As the quotation above from the James S. Kemper Foundation’s 1967 annual report shows, Mr. Kemper placed a high value on the communal nature of education. He compared education to what he knew best: insurance. He understood that becoming an educated person depends upon one’s access to the shared repository of learning, much the same way that insurance lessens one's risk by having many people contribute to a repository of resources upon which those who have suffered a loss can draw.

The repository of human knowledge and experience is, of course, accessible through reading, study of books and works of art, and through the labor of teachers. But James Kemper also knew learning comes by one’s being actively involved with a mentor in gaining active experience in the world of work. This philosophy encouraged the creation of the Kemper Scholars Program in 1948.

The program prepares students for leadership and service, especially in the fields of administration and business. The Foundation believes that undergraduate study of the liberal arts offers the best preparation for life and career; thus the program aims to promote education in the liberal arts while providing opportunities for career exploration, practical experience, and professional growth.

Benefits for the Scholars

Kemper Scholars receive scholarship financial assistance for three years of $3,000-$10,000 a year depending on demonstrated need. Scholars receive $2,000-$6,000 in summer project stipends for two years. They attend the annual Kemper Scholars Conference for three years. Scholars are placed in an internship at a non-profit organization in Chicago during their post-sophomore year summer. Scholars select and secure their own post-junior year summer internships in for-profit businesses.

Summer Project Support

Kemper Scholars receive $6,000+ stipends for work in major non-profit organizations in Chicago during the summer following their sophomore year. After discussions with Foundation staff, Scholars will be placed in full-time administrative positions where they can learn about financial management, organizational strategy, fund-raising, and non-profit administration. Because the Kemper Foundation has relationships with many major non-profit organizations in Chicago, positions can be offered in a wide variety of fields. Students have completed internships at such organizations as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago History Museum, the Field Museum, the Joffrey Ballet, the Office of the Mayor, Lookingglass Theatre, the Shedd Aquarium and WTTW public broadcasting.

Scholars live in furnished apartments in the same residence building in downtown Chicago. They participate in several group activities and a weekly seminar with staff while having many opportunities to explore the Chicago metropolitan area’s educational, cultural, nature, sports, and entertainment offerings.

During the summer following the junior year, scholars are eligible for summer internship grants ranging from $2,000 to $6,000 (level of support depends on expenses associated with the internship). While the scholars’ summer internships must be full-time in a for-profit setting, scholars will have great latitude in choosing the location and organization, including overseas placements.

Foundation-Sponsored Activities

Each year, the Kemper Scholars attend a national conference to discuss summer projects, meet with former Kemper Scholars, and consider topics in administration, leadership and business. They periodically read and discuss major works on leadership, service, ethics, or business, and they meet quarterly (usually by phone) with Kemper Foundation staff. These meetings focus on the scholars’ academic and professional goals, as well as their hopes for future internships and learning opportunities.


Only students at Kemper Scholars Institutions (listed below) are eligible to become Kemper Scholars.

  • Agnes Scott College, Decatur, Georgia
  • Augsburg College, Minneapolis,Minnesota
  • Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin
  • Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois
  • La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, Illinois
  • Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon
  • Pitzer College, Claremont, California
  • Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas
  • University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, Texas
  • Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pennsylvania
  • Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana
  • Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Virginia
  • Willamette University, Salem, Oregon
  • Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisiana


Eligible candidates must be first-year students with freshman standing at the time of selection enrolled full-time at a Kemper Scholars Institution. The Kemper Foundation is looking for unusually mature students with broad interests and a record of academic achievement, extracurricular activity, community service, and leadership ability. Successful candidates will have a commitment to the liberal arts and will maintain at least a 3.00 grade point average. They will have an interest in exploring careers in administration and/or business. The Foundation hopes to foster future leaders who pursue a vigorous, broad undergraduate education while participating in community service, engaging in campus activities, and exploring their vocational calling outside the classroom.

The Foundation commits financial support and personal assistance to each Kemper Scholar. Scholars commit themselves to regular contact with the Foundation, timely response to Foundation requests, service in their community, participation in foundation-sponsored activities, maintaining good grades, the sophomore summer in Chicago, and a post-junior year summer internship.

Students apply to the Kemper Scholars Program coordinator at their local institution. The local campus committee screens applicants and selects finalist candidates. Following its interviews with the finalists, the Foundation normally selects one Kemper Scholar at each college each year.