The Frederick Douglass Distinguished Scholars Program (FDDS)
The FDDS program was established in 2009 at American University (AU). Its purpose is to attract, recruit, retain, and graduate high-achieving undergraduates from diverse ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds. FDDS foster a respectful learning environment in which they come together to share a greater purpose, develop their potential, and contribute to the larger AU community and the world. Receiving over 7,000 applications in the last eight years, admission to the program is very competitive and is offered exclusively to ambitious undergraduates seeking creative solutions to the most pressing matters in the world. Diverse in their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, age, ability, religion, and sexual orientation, these scholars are selected based on their scholastic achievement, leadership potential, and demonstrated community service. FDDS exclusively awards AU’s premier scholarship of full tuition, room, board, books, local public transportation, and mandatory fees to a cohort of five exceptional incoming freshmen committed to excellence, social justice, and active citizenship.
Students have interned and volunteered over 13,000 hours with the Human Rights Campaign, Ashoka, the Case Foundation, Voto Latino, National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project, and more. In a recent assessment of program scholars, students cited skill enhancement, personal growth, and structured learning as strengths of the program.
The program created FDDS Masterclass to afford students the opportunity to get the very best advice from local, national, and international leaders in an intimate setting. Through weekly seminars and site visits, these scholars have interviewed the likes of Sonya Sotomayor, Colin Powell, and Ben Bernanke. Meeting with leaders, the students are able to recognize how cultivating a professional network can enhance their careers and achieve the program’s vision: to be American University’s foremost student and alumni leaders in the pursuit of excellence.