Frequently Asked Questions

National Eagle Scout Association

The National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) allows Eagle Scout alumni to continue to stay in touch with BSA programs, hear positive stories about the BSA’s impact on the community, and learn the latest methods provided by Scouting to transform the lives of young men & women through the tenets of leadership, character development, citizenship, and physical fitness.

Only those who have been granted the Eagle Scout Award and maintain good standing with the Boy Scouts of America may hold membership in NESA.

NESA is also an outlet for alumni to network and collaborate with one another under the common banner of Scouting, which may include increasing business connections and participating in service to the BSA or other organizations.

Last revised October 30, 2018

Between 1911 and 1925, membership in the Boy Scouts of America swelled from approximately 61,500 Scouts to 756,857 – a twelvefold increase. It would have grown even faster if more qualified leaders had stepped forward. Unfortunately, there were few programs in place to hold the interest of older Scouts. Many Scouts earned the Eagle Scout Award and then disappeared from the program.

On the night of April 19, 1925, ten Eagle Scouts met in the office of Scout Executive Raymond O. Hanson of the San Francisco Council to organize an association that would hold the interests of Eagle Scouts, uphold the dignity of the Eagle Award, and provide a base for continuing leadership in the Scouting movement. That night it was decided to organize an association of Eagle Scouts devoted to service.

Drawing on chivalric traditions, they called their association the Knights of Dunamis (Pronounced “DOO-na-mis,” the word comes from the Greek word meaning “power” or “spirit”). The name for the new association was selected carefully to reflect its dedication to service and denoted the increased power that is an Eagle Scout’s, by virtue of his membership, to use for the good of the Scouting movement and his community.

The founders felt that young men seeking a meaningful purpose in life fulfilled many of the same requirements as the Knights of Old. Thus, knighthood and the greatest knight of all, Sir Galahad, became the foundation of Dunamis. The Knight’s Code, which stressed honor to his country, the preparation to defend it from any enemy, and the commitment of service to his fellow man, was the obligation of a night.

The group’s emblem consisted of an Eagle perched on a sword resting on a shield. The sword was the sword of Sir Galahad, one of the famed knights of the King Arthur legends. The shield’s triangular shape signified the three parts of the Scout Oath – duty to God and country, duty to others, and duty to self.

The Knights of Dunamis was a great success in San Francisco and resulted in a high percentage of members continuing their interest in Scouting. This success didn’t go unnoticed. Within a year, the neighboring San Mateo County Council organized its own chapter, followed thereafter by the Atlantic City Council in New Jersey.

On December 14, 1929, delegates from six chapters met in San Francisco to organize a national board. This national organization supplemented the local chapters by providing supplies and holding national conferences to facilitate the exchange of views.

At its peak, the Knights of Dunamis boasted 110 chapters across the country, but this number had dwindled to 37 by 1971. The strongest chapters were located in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The older members saw great mystery in the name and ritual of the Knights of Dunamis, and the strength of leadership was in the hands of the few who were caught up in the ceremonies and degrees of knighthood. The intervening decades since its founding had brought more of an inwardly focused membership caught up in ceremonies and degrees of knighthood than in service to Scouting. Youth members found some conflict between their obligation to their own Scout unit and the time spent in Knights of Dunamis ritual and activities. 

However, there was still a great need to keep in contact with Eagle Scouts and to develop a manpower resource for Scouting, and therefore a change was needed. To accomplish, the support of the National Council was needed.

At an annual meeting in Fort Collins, CO in August 1970, the National Chapter of the Knights of Dunamis, Inc., empowered its officers to take action to dissolve the corporation and consummate a merger with the Boy Scouts of America. 

Robert Ballou, who grew up in Knights of Dunamis, was selected as national secretary when the BSA agreed to subsidize the Knights of Dunamis for 18 months. In 1971, James J. Harris was assigned as national secretary. 

In May 1971, a meeting In May 1971, a meeting was held in Atlanta to discuss the future of the Eagle program and a steering committee was formed, comprising two national Executive Board members, J. Kimball Whitney and Donald H. Flanders; the president and first vice president of Knights of Dunamis, Dr. Lester Steig and Dr. James Cochran; Ebert May; James Harris; J. H. Biggers; Ken Wells; and three Knights of Dunamis youth members. Using the research study presented by the Research and Development Division under the direction of Wells, plans were formulated for the organization of the National Eagle Scout Association.

In May 1972, the National Eagle Scout Association (NESA) was born with the first NESA committee meeting held in conjunction with the National Council meeting in Los Angeles on May 19, 1972.

Donald H. Flanders of Fort Smith, Arkansas, served as NESA’s first national president. In 1973, NESA launched a vigorous membership drive at the National Order of the Arrow Conference and the national Scout jamboree.

That same year, the organization created the NESA Scoutmaster Award to recognize noteworthy promotion of, and leadership to, the Scouting advancement program in general and exemplary development of Eagles in particular. (The award was replaced by the Scoutmaster Award of Merit in 1987.)

During the 1970s, NESA encouraged the development of local chapters, which came together at biennial national conferences. The first of these was held in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1974. By the mid-1980s, however, NESA was focusing mainly on encouraging Eagle Scouts to support their local councils, not to be involved in an ancillary organization. National conferences were replaced by events at BSA annual meetings. NESA chapters gave way to council NESA committees. Today, these committees help carry out NESA’s goal of identifying and involving adult Eagle Scouts. They also provide recognition to new Eagle Scouts and encourage them to enroll in NESA and stay involved in Scouting.

In 1972, NESA introduced a newsletter, called the Eagleletter, to keep in touch with Eagle Scouts around the country and keep them apprised of Scouting activity. The newsletter is now called Eagles’ Call and boasts over 150,000 subscribers.

In 1978, NESA instituted its life membership program. (The first went to Zenon C.R. Hansen, who had been involved in Scouting for 55 years.) Life memberships have provided and continue to provide vital support for programs that seek to reengage adult Eagle Scouts.

Another key NESA effort, its scholarship program, began in 1984. Six years later, NESA member Larry Cooke endowed the Mabel and Lawrence S. Cooke Eagle Scout Scholarships.  In 2002, the Hall/McElwain Merit Scholarships were added to NESA’s scholarship portfolio.

In 2012, NESA introduced the World Explorer program and begun sending Eagle Scouts on expeditions around the globe. These young men have assisted researchers in destinations including the Galapagos Islands, Mammoth Cave, the Arctic, the Amazon rain forest, and South Africa.

Much has changed since 1925, when ten young Eagle Scouts formed the Knights of Dunamis. However, one thing remains the same: NESA’s commitment to retain the interest of Eagle Scouts, uphold the dignity of the Eagle Scout Award, and provide a base for continuing leadership in the Scouting movement.

Last revised October 30, 2018


The scholarship window is being determined for 2020. Please watch your official BSA communications and social media for updates or check back soon for update information on this page.

The scholarship window opens on August 1st with a deadline ending at 11:59pm Central Standard Time, October 31st.

Recipients of Eagle Scout scholarships are notified by mail and email by July 15.

Non-recipients are notified by email by July 15. 

In addition, scholarship recipients are posted to the website by August 1st.

Last revised October 30, 2018

You must be a NESA member to receive a scholarship. However, you can apply for a NESA scholarship before you apply for a NESA membership. The system will not prevent you from creating an account if your membership has not been submitted or processed yet. NESA staffers will manually verify your NESA status before we offer an award. Scholarship applicants should apply for NESA membership by October 31.

Last revised October 30, 2018Last revised October 30, 2018

The NESA scholarship application is separate from the Alumni Directory,, and Scoutbook. Your credentials for those entities are not transferred to the NESA scholarship application and if you use those usernames and passwords they will not work.

Also, you do not need to log in to the community to access the application. The application is viewable to the public and does not require a special member number or access to the Alumni Network to apply.

Common login problems

  • Make sure you’re logging in at the correct site
  • If you’ve lost your password, you may reset it on the site
  • You may have started the application using another email address. Check all email addresses.

Last revised August, 2019

Yes. You can create an account and fill out the application ahead of time if you plan to conduct the board of review by October 31. You will not be penalized for submitting an application if you don’t pass the board by October 31 as expected. If the board occurs after October 31, you can simply apply during the next scholarship cycle even though you are already attending college.

Last revised October 30, 2018

Attendance at U.S. military academies is paid by the U.S. Government. These scholarships are typically worth $400,000 each. Additionally, attendees receive a monthly stipend from the U.S. Government. These students have secured an education. Other Scouts might not be able to attend college at all without receiving a NESA scholarship. Our goal is to help as many Eagle Scouts as possible to attend college.

Last revised October 30, 2018

No. This is an electronic submission process only. Paper copies from previous years are out of date and will not be accepted. If you find an application online, or are given a paper application by your troop or council, please discard it and let your troop or council know that NESA scholarship applications must be received online only. Troops and councils who continue to distribute outdated scholarship applications are jeopardizing their Scouts’ chances at receiving one of these awards.

Last revised October 30, 2018

NESA staffers will be able to view your entire application. This is necessary so that we can contact the recipients and make an offer.

NESA does not select the scholarship recipients. This is done by volunteer committees based in the region in which you earned the Eagle rank. These committees will not have access to your personal information so that judging will be fair and based solely on your accomplishments. The system masks all personal information from the judges, including name, address, telephone and email address, troop number, and other information that would identify the individual or his location.

Last revised October 30, 2018

Those who wish to be considered for the NESA STEM scholarship are the ONLY applicants who need to submit a reference letter.

When completing the scholarship application, STEM applicants will input their reference provider’s email address in the form. After the reference provider email address has been inputted and the applicant clicks “Save and Continue Editing” at the bottom of the form, an invitation and login instructions will be emailed to the prospective reference provider.

We recommend that you notify your reference provider BEFORE submitting their name and email address. This allows them to contact you in case they did not receive the reference letter invitation.

The References tab will indicate whether your reference request is still pending (Requested) or has been completed (Submitted) by the individual whose name and address you provided on the STEM Application.

If the individual has not replied, you may resend an invitation (using the References tab at the top of the page) to the individual or add additional references on the STEM application. Ask your reference provider to check their junk folder if they do not receive it immediately. If resending the invitation doesn’t work, you may ask the provider for a second email address. Some email providers are friendlier to requests from the AcademicWorks system than others.

You only need one reference letter to apply, but it is acceptable to contact multiple references to ensure that at least one responds before the deadline. If you contact multiple recipients you MUST select the preferred reference provider in the dropdown box under the reference question.

Be sure to select a reference letter with “Submitted” status. The system will automatically default to the last provider you contacted. If that reference provider did not respond, then the system will default to a reference request that is still pending.

This is a tool that allows students to select the ONE reference letter they wish to submit, and by submitting multiple requests it will assume you do not want to submit the letters you have already received.

Because the majority of applicants wait till the deadline to apply, reference providers who had little time to respond by October 31, will be granted additional time to respond. Reference providers must reply by November 15.

Therefore, it is imperative that the Scout contact reference providers early in the application process to ensure that they have enough time to respond.

Last revised October 30, 2018

Winners may defer payment until they return from their mission. Additionally, NESA can defer scholarships for other reasons if requested. Winners should contact NESA to schedule a deferred payment date.

Last revised October 30, 2018

NESA must set a submission deadline each year, and that deadline is 11:59:59pm, October 31. At midnight, November 1, the system is locked.

There is no way to update an existing form OR create a new application after that deadline.

NESA does not grant extensions for any reason.

Therefore, we ask that you please begin the application process as soon as possible. NESA office hours are 8:00am to 4:30pm (CST) during weekdays. We are closed on the weekends and holidays. NESA staffers are glad to answer your questions, but it may be physically impossible to answer every question we receive if too many applicants wait until the very last minute to contact us.

Typically, we receive thousands of applications. That is why we stress that every applicant should read through the entire application, contact NESA with any questions, and begin assembling the needed information well before the deadline. Feel free to contact NESA with any questions you may have, and we will do our best to respond in a timely manner.

Last revised October 30, 2018

Eagle Scout Lists and Data

Councils can run lists of Eagles Scouts from Blackbaud CRM, the BSA’s database.  Professional staff at local councils have access to Blackbaud CRM.  Examples of professional staff that have access are Scout Executives, Assistant Scout Executives, Directors of Field Service, Directors of Development, and Development Directors.

Running a list is quick and easy. For a quick training, you can use this How to Pull and Eagle Guide


Last revised March 2020

The National Eagle Scout Association abides by the Scout Law (including being trustworthy and loyal), and you can be assured that no personal information or membership lists will be given to third parties.

The National Eagle Scout Association may periodically notify members of benefits, discounts, and/or opportunities made available through the BSA’s corporate partners. Nevertheless, rest assured that these partners will never be given your information in order to contact you independent of the BSA.

Last revised October 30, 2018

Distinguished Eagle Scout (DESA)

Nominations must be submitted by the council NESA committee only. Individuals may not submit a nomination directly to the national office. The nomination form should be accompanied by documentation detailing the nominee’s national achievements in his field and a record of his community service. This can be mailed or emailed to NESA, but it must be submitted by the council or NESA committee representative only.

Last revised October 30, 2018

The DESA committee is made up of seven volunteer DESA recipients from around the country. Nominations are submitted electronically to the members and they have two weeks to return their vote to NESA. A NESA staffer will collect the votes and notify the council of their decision. The vote must be a majority decision and does not need to be unanimous.

Last revised October 30, 2018

The DESA is a national award requiring national distinction in the nominee’s field. Nominations that do not present proof of national distinction are denied. In some cases the council may choose to grant the NOESA instead. Due to the variety of professionals who are nominated, there are a variety of ways the nominee might receive national recognition in his field. For example: doctors might hold positions on national medical boards, receive national awards from their peers, pioneer medical techniques that become an industry standard, or make a discovery that leads to advances in medicine. NESA created the NESA Outstanding Eagle Scout Award in 2011 to recognize Eagle Scouts for accomplishments at the local, state, and regional level; therefore, DESA nominations should provide recognition beyond the state and regional level or the DESA committee will deny and recommend granting the NOESA instead.

Last revised October 30, 2018

NESA recommends waiting at least a month before inquiring. DESA nominations are submitted to the committee about once a month and the voters are given two weeks to respond.

Last revised October 30, 2018

Councils may purchase recognition items through NESA, including a wall plaque, presentation kit, and device. These items must be ordered through NESA as these are restricted items and Supply needs verification that each award has been approved by the national office.

Last revised October 30, 2018

The award may be presented by the recipient’s council, the recipient’s colleagues, or both. The recipient should be consulted and given the chance to invite the people he wishes to share the occasion with. The timing should also be set by the recipient as these men are not aware of their nomination and they may not desire a public presentation, or they may desire to put it off for an extended period due to previous obligations.

Last revised October 30, 2018

National Outstanding Eagle Scout (NOESA)

Nominations must be submitted by the council NESA committee and signed by the council executive and president. Individuals may not submit a nomination directly to the national office. Since the NOESA is a council award, the nomination form does not need to be accompanied by documentation detailing the nominee’s achievements, but it is recommended that the council retain such information for presentation purposes and for future reference. Nomination form and additional information may be found here.

Last revised October 30, 2018

The council NESA committee is responsible for selecting the recipient(s) and submitting the nomination and securing approval by the Scout executive and Council president. The council NESA committee may delegate selection to a NESA awards sub-committee. The NOESA is a council award and therefore, does not require national approval.

Last revised October 30, 2018

The nominee is not recognized as a NOESA recipient until the application has been filed with the National Eagle Scout Association and credentials returned to the council.

Last revised October 30, 2018

NESA will provide a certificate suitable for framing, knot device, and lapel pin. A ribbon with medal (Supply Item #614640) may be purchased separately through National Supply Group. (Main Number: 1-800-323-0732) Extra lapel pins and devices are available for purchase at

Last revised October 30, 2018

The award may be presented by the recipient’s council, the recipient’s colleagues, or both. The recipient should be consulted and given the chance to invite the people he wishes to share the occasion with.

Last revised October 30, 2018

Eagle Scout Service Project of the Year (ESSPY)

Nominations for the Council Service Project of the Year Award may be submitted to the council NESA committee by an Eagle Scout, his parents, or any registered BSA volunteer (with the Eagle Scout’s permission) by January 21 for consideration. 

The council NESA committee will select a winner and must email the council winner’s nomination form and a scanned copy of the winning Eagle Scout Service Project Workbook—including attachments—to the National Eagle Scout Association at by February 21 of each year.

Regional winners and the National winner will be announced by April 8 of each year, in time to be announced at the National Annual Meeting in May.

Last revised October 30, 2018

Each council NESA committee may create their own criteria for selecting their council’s Adams Eagle Scout Service Project recipient. However, the selection for the regional and national award is based on the following:

  • Project planning
  • Effort to develop the project
  • Extent and character of leadership provided by the Scout
  • Extent of achievement of the planned result
  • Project’s impact on the beneficiary and/or on the community at large
  • Originality of the project
  • Time and materials contributed
  • Level of skill employed to complete the project
  • Whether the project will have long lasting impact

Last revised October 30, 2018

NESA Legacy Society