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  1. Bowar-Ferres, Susan L. PhD, RN, NEA-BC
  2. Fitzpatrick, M. Louise EdD, RN, FAAN
  3. McClure, Margaret L. EdD, RN, FAAN


Nurses Educational Funds, Inc (NEF) is the oldest and largest professionally endorsed source of funds for advanced study in nursing, which celebrated its Centennial in 2012. This philanthropic nonprofit organization is notable for its roots; NEF was organized by nurses specifically for nurses. Its history dates back to 1912, when it began in memory of Isabel Hampton Robb at Teacher's College, where the first graduate nursing education programs began. The initial Robb Memorial Fund was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1941 and officially became Nursing Educational Funds, Inc, in 1954. The NEF's sole mission is to raise money and give it for graduate-level scholarships in nursing education, service, practice, and research. Since its origin, more than 1000 doctoral and master's students from a broad array of schools across the nation have been recipients of awards. The NEF Board is a totally volunteer, highly dedicated group of nursing, business, and other professional leaders, who are steadfastly committed to this critical effort. Scholarships for graduate nursing education are imperative to meet the need to grow the pipeline of faculty. As charged by the 2010 Institute of Medicine report, the goal to increase the number of baccalaureate nurses to 80% of the workforce and to double the number of nurses with doctoral degrees both by 2020 speak to the heart of NEF. Funds raised currently are largely from Board members, individual donors, modest foundational support, and a number of bequests. As the nursing population grows older, the potential for bequests or planned giving becomes a realistic goal. Former NEF scholars have not unfortunately been a financial source, although pay back is an expectation. Nurses are the best ones to tell this compelling story to corporations and foundations as NEF continues to persist in the commitment to support graduate nursing education.