Scholarship Program

Tom MorrisonPhoto of Jerry WheelerScholarship application for 2019/2020 school year, fillable PDF format. Fill out, then click on "Submit Form" in the upper right corner.

SDRA's Jerry Wheeler Scholarship program is designed to encourage and support students studying for a career in retailing. The scholarship program is named in honor of our former Executive Director, Jerry Wheeler, who started the program.

In 2018, SDRA awarded 9 Jerry Wheeler Scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. The applicant who receives the top score from our Scholarship Committee also receives a $500 scholarship in memory of our Past President Tom Morrison of Rapid City, who died of ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) in June of 2015.   

From 1992 through 2018, we awarded 248 scholarships totaling over $171,700. 


Submit an application for the 2019-2020 Jerry Wheeler Scholarship

How To Apply

  • Complete the application form by clicking on the button above, or print a copy of the form here, fill it out and send it o SDRA. The application deadline for 2019 is April 22.
  • Financial aid offices of South Dakota universities and vocational schools receive application forms in December.
  • Email SDRA to request a hard copy of the application.


1.   Career in Retailing

To be eligible, applicant must desire a career in a retail field or a retail-related field.

2. Type of School

To be eligible, applicant must enroll in a retail or retail-related course of study at a qualifying, accredited technical school, college, university, or professional training institute in the fall of the application year. Enrollment in an online degree program from a qualifying school is acceptable if applicant meets other eligibility requirements.

3. Retail / Retail-Related Field of Study

Examples of areas of study considered to be retail-related may include (but are not be limited to): Accounting, Agribusiness (this would be retail agribusiness, not operation of a farm or ranch), Apparel Merchandising, Auto Mechanics, Automotive Technology, Business Administration, Business Management, Collision Repair, Computer Science, Commercial Baking, Culinary Arts, Diesel Mechanics, Electrical Maintenance, Gemology, Heating/Ventilation, Hotel/Restaurant Management, Landscape Design, Pharmacy, Photography, Printing Industries, Refrigeration, Sales/Marketing Management, and Tourism Industry Management. (Note: this list is not all-inclusive).

4. South Dakota Education

Applicants must meet one of these requirements:

  • have graduated from a South Dakota high school -OR-
  • have earned a high school equivalency certificate (such as a GED) in South Dakota -OR-
  • plan to attend post secondary school in South Dakota

5. Post-secondary Credits Requirement / Work Experience in Lieu of Education

  • Applicant must have completed at least 24 credits from a qualifying college or university, or 12 credits from a qualifying tech school or certified professional training institute by September of the award year to be eligible. We will will consider full-time post secondary work experience in lieu of the post-secondary education requirement. 
  • High school seniors are not eligible unless they have sufficient post-secondary school credits. Documentation of these credits - such as a grade transcript - must be provided.

6.  Credit Hours

Students must enroll in 12 or more credit hours of classes at a qualifying post-secondary school or online degree program for the fall of the year the scholarship is awarded.  (Internships do not qualify.)

7.  Prior Recipients

Previous recipients are eligible.

9. SDRA Scholarship Committee

Children and spouses of current members of the SDRA Scholarship Committee are not eligible for consideration.

10. Deadline for 2019 Scholarships

Application and all accompanying materials must be emailed to SDRA or postmarked by April 22, 2019 to be eligible for consideration.


A Reminder of Steps to Take When Applying

  1. Fill out the application (print legibly, or type). NOTE: You should receive a confirmation by email after submitting your application electronically. If you don't receive a confirmation email, please email SDRA to verify that we received your application.
  2. Print or type out your goals, challenges and accomplishments -OR- provide this information via YouTube video, limit of 3 minutes (see page 3 of the application)
  3. Request a copy of your most recent grade transcript
  4. Obtain two letters of reference (at least one must be from a person who currently owns or manages a business)
  5. Submit application, written or YouTube essay, grade transcript, and letters of reference to SDRA by mail, email or fax by the deadline



  • Recipient announcement: Names of scholarship recipients will be announced in July.
  • Payment: All scholarships awarded will be paid directly to the school to be applied to tuition, after SDRA receives verification of enrollment.


What is considered a “retail or business related” course of study?
SDRA’s membership consists of a broad range of business types. Likewise, a broad range of business programs are eligible for the scholarship, including business administration, auto mechanics, computer science, culinary arts, gemology, heating/ventilation, pharmacy, photography, agribusiness, landscape design, printing industries, refrigeration, and more. Examples of fields of study which are NOT eligible: education/teaching, journalism, nursing, farming, ranching.

How can individuals apply for a scholarship?
Each December, applications are furnished to financial aid offices at South Dakota post secondary schools, and to instructors at post secondary schools.

Applications are also available:

  • from this website by mid December each year for the following school year
  • by contacting SDRA by phone (1-800-658-5545)
  • send an email to SDRA to request that an application be mailed to you

What other information must be supplied with the application?
Applicants must furnish a copy of their most recent grade transcript, and two letters of reference. At least one of the letters of reference must be from a retailer or other business person. Also be sure to include the essay information.

Who determines which students will receive the awards?
A committee of retailers appointed by the SDRA Board President reviews applications and selects the recipients.

How many scholarships are awarded?
The number of scholarships and the dollar amount awarded vary from year to year. For the 2017-2018 school year: 9 scholarships were awarded, ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. In 2017, 12 scholarships were awarded in amounts ranging from $500 to $1,600. The top scholarship recipient received an additional $500 from the Tom Morrison Scholarship.  

How are the SDRA Jerry Wheeler Scholarships funded?
The scholarships come from the South Dakota Retailers Association Education Trust Fund, a pool of funds established in 1991 by the SDRA Board of Directors. Each year, a portion of money from the fund is awarded to selected students studying for careers in retail-related fields.

Where does the Trust Fund money come from?
The fund was started with seed money from the Association. The trust fund has continued to grow with donations, tax-deductible memorial contributions, bequests, and money set aside by the Association.

Can I make a tax deductible contribution to the fund in memory of a colleague or family member?
Yes. When contributions are made as a memorial to the scholarship fund, the family of the deceased is notified of the fact that a specific person made a contribution. We will notify the family of the amount only if the donor asks that we do so.

In addition, SDRA’s Board of Directors has voted to match any amounts given to the trust fund as a memorial - so your contribution will actually be doubled.

To make a contribution fill out this form and mail to: SDRA Education Trust Fund, PO Box 638, Pierre, SD 57501.

Why should I be interested in contributing to the SDRA Education Trust Fund?
It is important for business people to be involved in education, to make sure that the employees and business owners of the future are work-ready.

It is also essential to impress on young people the value of a career in retailing. One way to do that is to make scholarships available. The fact that retailers are willing to provide scholarships certainly makes an impression on students and the academic community that South Dakota’s retail industry is serious about fostering the educational principles involved in retailing.