Tom Tolen Educational Scholarships


The purposes of Tolen Scholarships are:

  1. To honor the late Tom Tolen and preserve the memory and meaning of his attitudes toward lighting, lighting education and energy conservation through lighting. 
  2. To encourage education in lighting for trade school, junior college, college and university students who have a clear interest in lighting or who have evidenced innovative thought and activity in their study or use of light and energy.
  3. To give students support and recognition for their educational accomplishments. 


Tom Tolen devoted his life to the lighting profession and to the Illuminating Engineering Society. Tom was a lighting designer, a constant leader in lighting courses; active in all fields of lighting. Foremost, however, was his interest and participation in education and how lighting can influence energy conservation efforts. For two and a half decades, until his untimely death, Tom helped shape the careers and work of many who practice lighting.  These scholarships are intended to expand and continue his dedication to the field.

Eligibility of applicants:

  1.  Must be enrolled in an accredited class or program in an accredited educational institution. 
  2. In an approved curricula including architecture, architectural engineering, electrical engineering, interior design, landscape design, theater, or broadcasting, accredited by the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), or the Foundation for Interior Design Educations and Research (FIDER) 
  3. Must be studying in the Northern California counties of: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano or Sonoma. 
  4. Must be a full time Junior or Senior pursuing lighting studies or a graduate student who has a specific lighting project as part of a degree program. 

Must be a full or part-time Freshman, Sophomore or returning student pursuing lighting studies with lighting as part of a degree or certificate program. 


Criteria for the award of Scholarships


Scholarships will be granted to applicants who propose to study or pursue lighting design, technology, or research as part of their degree, certification, undergraduate or graduate studies.  Applications for scholarships must contain a description of the applicant’s reason and interest in studying lighting, or work to date and a specific proposal for the pursuit of educational studies that will contribute to the furtherance of that work.


Format of applications

Statement of purpose:

Applicants must submit a statement of purpose or interest in describing their educational plan in lighting and describe what aspect or work a Tolen Scholarship would support. Undergraduate students shall describe in detail the course work proposed, reason for attending the course or its relationship to potential employment in the lighting field.  Graduate students shall describe specific project work they believe will further the lighting field or industry.


Appropriate transcripts from the involved school shall be submitted.


Not less than three letters of recommendation shall accompany each application.  At least one of these shall be from a person involved in lighting academically or professionally and shall attest to the lighting skills and/or interest in lighting of the applicant. 

Scholar agreement:

Applicants shall agree to use the Scholarship for the purposes described and will report to the Distribution Committee on their accomplishments after completion of the involved academic year.

Scholarship awards

Tolen distribution committee:

Scholarship awards shall be advertised by and made by the Scholarship Committee which shall be composed of three persons nominated as follows by the Board of Managers of the IES, San Francisco Section. 

  1. Two members of the San Francisco section.  
  2. One IES member who is not a member of the San Francisco Section. 

No person shall serve on the Distribution Committee who shall have any familial, business, or academic relationship with any applicant.  Any person so disqualified shall be replaced by whomever nominated last person.

Size and number of awards:

Annual Scholarship awards shall be made from the Tolen Scholarship Fund.  These awards are not to exceed a total of Five Thousand Dollars, $5,000.00 annually.  From time to time the Distribution Committee shall confer with the Treasurer of the San Francisco Section to determine the amount of funds available.  On that basis the number and amount of awards to be made in any one year shall be determined. 

Judging standards:

Scholarship will be awarded to academically worthy students who have an interest in lighting or who propose to pursue an educational program which will further their ability to contribute to the lighting community upon graduation.  Proposals for graduate projects will be reviewed for innovative and practical aspects.  No standards other than those included herein shall be applied in selecting Tolen Scholarships.

Judging procedures: 

  1. Applications must be submitted by the deadline date announced by the Distribution Committee. Late proposals may be considered upon unanimous agreement by the Committee. 
  2. The Committee may request the assistance of other persons as judges during the review process but no such person shall be involved with any applicant as described above.

Download the Application: TOm Tolen scholarship fund Application