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A Living Memorial & the Future of Public Service Leadership

A better future relies on attracting to public service the commitment and sound judgment of bright, outstanding young leaders. This belief is what led President Truman, when approached by a bipartisan group of admirers near the end of his life, to encourage the creation of a living memorial devoted to this purpose rather than a bricks and mortar monument. For forty years, the Truman Foundation has fulfilled that mission: supporting the potential of terrific young people from across the United States committed to public service, more than 3,000 so far.

Our purpose is clear. The need more urgent than ever. Whether the issue is jobs or climate change, fiscal reform or health care, our national affairs are all too often seen as mired in division and paralysis, highly polarized and drowning in private dollars. And the institutions that conduct our nation’s affairs lack public confidence, especially the trust of younger Americans.

It is in this environment that the Truman Scholarship Foundation, initially only a source of scholarship support, today nurtures, supports and sustains the ideals and ambitions of young leaders. Along with providing scholarships for graduate school, we operate a week-long program for each new class of Truman Scholars that builds community among them and ensures deep mentoring from more seasoned Scholars. We also bring Truman Scholars to Washington, DC, for anywhere from three months to two years—after college but before graduate school—and place them in positions with the federal government or with nationally focused nonprofit organizations.

Almost four decades into our work, we honor President Truman with a unique approach to effecting outstanding public service leadership, an approach he prescribed and that is simultaneously low-cost and high-impact.