Finlandia Foundation National
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
The most important private source of support for Finnish culture in the United States.



Finlandia Foundation National established its first scholarship program in the 1950s with awards to students attending music institutions including the Sibelius Academy and Juilliard School.


The scholarship tradition continues. Full-time undergraduate and graduate students of all academic disciplines who are currently enrolled in accredited post-secondary schools in the United States and Finland are eligible for FFN scholarships. 
In addition the FFN administers the P.J.C. Lindfors Legal Scholarship.
Thank you for your interest. The application period for the 2014 awards has closed.
For your future information:
The application, with required support documents, must be postmarked by February 1.
Applications are evaluated in the spring and awarded for the following fall or spring term. Letters notifying applicants of their status will be mailed in mid-April.
Scholarship candidates must show evidence of continuing to the sophomore level or higher prior to receiving the award, and must have maintained a 3.0 GPA.
The FFN Scholarship Committee considers:
- U.S. or Finnish citizenship is required; applicants of Finnish-American heritage are given primary consideration
- course of study
- U.S./Finnish citizenship
In addition:
- Students studying subjects related to Finnish culture receive special consideration
- Relatives of members of the FFN board of directors are not eligible for scholarship funds
- The number of scholarships awarded is determined by the available funds in any given year
A total of $30,000 is awarded each year; scholarships range from $1,000 to $3,000 per student.
Application Process
Complete and submit the application online.

Required documents include all college/university transcripts and two letters of recommendation on letterhead; one must be from a college/university professor. These documents must be mailed and postmarked by February 1.
It is not necessary to use overnight delivery service.
Delivery confirmation (tracking) and signature confirmation are highly recommended.
Please email the office to confirm that the materials were mailed by the deadline.
Good luck!


Students can additionally search

Cappex Scholarships for other scholarships.




The Impact of Finlandia Foundation National
Student Funding on My Life So Far

Hilary Joy Virtanen and her daughter Audrey Stewart (at the age of nine) in 2011 during Finnish Independence Day at the Finnish American Heritage Center at Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan.  


Hilary Joy Virtanen
PhD Candidate, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Instructor of Finnish Studies and Paloheimo Fellows Coordinator, Finlandia University


To say that Finlandia Foundation National (FFN) has contributed greatly to my education is an understatement. Second only to the United States Department of Education, FFN programs have had a profound impact on my ability to pursue the college education of my dreams and, even before completing my final degree, to be able to give back to the Finnish ethnic community.

I was born in to a family unlikely to produce a person with multiple graduate degrees. My parents, at the time of my birth, were young and poor, and I hovered around the working class/poverty level throughout my childhood. Children in my social class are not often expected to attend college, and throughout my life, competing voices alternated between telling me that I, too, have the right to believe in—and achieve—my American Dream and telling me that I should not expect to meet my dreams because of my given lot in life. FFN was, and is, a strong voice of support.

My interest in learning combined at a very young age with a fascination with my family’s Finnish ethnicity and roots in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I often grew up in far-flung locations, away from my family and home region. The constant for me was Upper Michigan and the Finnishness of the town of Toivola where I was born. I recognized early on that I came from a community with a distinct heritage, which I constantly used as a frame of reference from which to compare the many other places I lived. This, in turn, led to my educational interest in culture—history, literature, anthropology, and especially languages simultaneously quenched and fueled my thirst to know more.

I spent my last three years of high school back in Upper Michigan and surrounded by family. My move toward Finnish studies was solidified when, as a senior, I took the opportunity—offered for the first time that year—to study Finnish language through the public school system. I do not think I belittle the term when I say that, in this class, I found my calling; I believe that is what a person’s career should be. My study of the language and culture that year changed my life, and though I did not pursue Finnish studies as an undergraduate at Michigan State University, I did so quite fervently starting in grad school, and FFN has accompanied me as a supporter since then. 

Following my first year at Indiana University, where I was finally able to continue to study Finnish language and culture, I conducted my first summer of ethnographic fieldwork in the U.P., working as an intern at Finlandia University’s Finnish American Heritage Center and delving into the world of Finnish American festivals and oral history. During this wonderful, whirlwind time, I came to a dangerous juncture point: due to my own error, I had not submitted a form for graduate financial support to my department, and so was looking to pay for my entire second year of graduate school—at out of state rates—all by myself. In the midst of weighing my options, including the heartbreaking possibility of either sitting out a year or dropping out entirely, an envelope came in the mail that bolstered my sisu: It was notification of a scholarship award from Finlandia Foundation National. 

Now of course, it didn’t cover a year’s worth of school. But it did give me a glimmer of hope. It reminded me of all I had overcome to get to that point, and it made me realize that someone out there did not think I should have to stand entirely alone. I abandoned my plans to give up school, received notification of another scholarship I had applied for, cobbled together other funds to make it through a year of school, and made sure to turn in my forms the following year so that I had a smaller fundraising burden in the future. 

This was but the first display of interest and support that FFN has shown me. The following year, 2005, I received my first research grant from the foundation, as well as my first scholarship from the New York Metropolitan Chapter. In total, the Finlandia Foundation National has granted me three research grants and five scholarships. It is no exaggeration when I say that the support that you, you have given me is second only to the federal government. 

Unlike other scholarship programs that have also generously aided me in financing my development toward my vocation, you, the members of FFN, have exhibited not only an abiding interest in my studies on a personal level, but you have also willingly given of your time and expertise to chat with me when we run into one another at FinnFests and to answer my questions about Finnish national dress traditions for class projects. Your generosity, both philanthropic and humane, has bolstered me continuously as others have fretted over whether my studies in folklore and Nordic languages would be the death of me.

And as I stand at the cusp of completing my PhD, as the Finlandia Foundation stands proudly at the age of 60, now is a good time to reflect on the results of your investment in me:

~ I have earned a Masters of Arts in Folklore at Indiana University-Bloomington, the world’s top-ranked folklore program, where I also completed numerous credits in Finnish studies.

I have earned a Masters of Arts in Scandinavian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I studied Finland’s three official languages (Finnish, Swedish, and Sámi), as well as Finnish ethnic folklore including the Kalevala.

I am completing my PhD, also at Wisconsin, based on field research, primarily among Upper Michigan’s Finns, to reveal what roles the notions of traditionality, authenticity, and historicity play in the narration and reflection of the ethnic community’s story.

I have gained professional experience as, among other things, an archives technician, scholarly journal editorial assistant, instructor of Finnish language and ESL, instructional assistant of such classes as shamanism and comparative ethnic studies, and now, coordinator of Finlandia University’s freshman experience seminar program and instructor of Finnish Studies.

~ I have published my own research on Finnish American folklore characters, orality and literacy in Finnish American narrative, and the origins of Finnish-language radical parody music. I have attended and spoken at four FinnFest USAs, one FinnForum, and two meetings of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies. I have served as an expert consultant for the Wisconsin Arts Board, The Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center, and the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program, among others. 

Just as you have given to me, so too, must I give back. And while perhaps the worrywarts were right—I will never be a millionaire folklorist—I can give back that which I have always had to rely on for myself: my skills and ideas, my interest and my attention. I am fortunate to be able to give back now, to my community, to academe, and to Finns worldwide. What I have to offer may not be life-changing or even great. But I offer affirmation of the importance of heritage—ours in particular--and a promise that younger generations will not forget. Some of us are here specifically to engage in our heritage and to carry it on.  

Finlandia Foundation National takes a chance each year on a group of students who show intellectual promise and over the past six decades, you have supported some folks who have accomplished some truly wonderful things. While I certainly hope to make some similarly beautiful marks as this group of scholars has—and will—I can only stand now and say, without the Finlandia Foundation National, and the Finlandia Foundation New York Metropolitan Chapter (if some of you are out in the audience tonight, you deserve a shout-out!), I would not have made it this far. You have impacted my life and countless others through your scholarship and grant programs, and for this, I thank you all deeply and congratulate you on 60 years of philanthropy and fellowship.




Ellen Harju

I first joined the Los Angeles Finlandia Foundation (LAFF) in 2007 after moving to Los Angeles to begin graduate school at UCLA. I am of Finnish descent and am also an enrolled member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe. I was used to being part of a community so it was difficult to move away from my family and tribe. I learned about the Finlandia Foundation in my Scandinavian Studies class at the University of Washington. I joined the Los Angeles chapter right away and was able to find another community even though I was so far away from home. I was the vice president of LAFF for two years and now I am the chapter president.

            At UCLA I am in the geochemistry Ph.D. program with a focus in cosmo-chemistry. We study meteorites to learn about the early solar system. My current project is to measure silicon isotopes in meteorites to determine if there was silicon-rich gas in the early solar nebula during planet formation. I also study how meteorites interacted with water on their parent asteroids and volatiles on the planet Mercury. I am a coauthor on a paper about volatiles on Mercury that was published in Science. I will be traveling to Florence, Italy this summer to present our research on Mercury at a geochemistry conference. 

I have been driving in Los Angeles for nearly ten years, but my luck ran out in 2011 when I was hit three times in a little over a year. In the accident that totaled my car I was hit on the front driver’s side. I am lucky my injuries weren’t worse, but I am still recovering from whiplash and my other injuries.   These accidents have made it difficult to stay in school and the medical bills have caused a huge financial strain. I am grateful to Finlandia Foundation National for supporting me so I can stay enrolled in school and complete my degree.