University of Phoenix® School of Business and The National Retail Federation share a commitment to support the dreams of the next generation of retail leaders. For the fourth consecutive year, the two organizations are collaborating to offer the Dream BIG Scholarship Program, which will award 20 full-tuition scholarships to retail industry professionals who want to advance their retail careers through higher education.

The retail industry is already the largest private sector employer in America, employing more than 42 million Americans,(1) and it is poised for significant growth. Over the past three years alone, it has grown by more than half a million people, and the industry is expected to hire more than a million more employees by 2022.(2)

The Dream BIG Scholarship Program was created to provide retail workers the opportunity to further their careers and to highlight the diverse career paths that are available within the industry. In fact, 44% of retail workers today are employed in positions other than sales.(3)

“Over the past four years, this scholarship has changed the lives of 50 different deserving retail employees, each of whom knew that their passion for retail and commitment to hard work was the perfect recipe for success in the retail industry,” said NRF Senior Vice President and NRF Foundation Executive Director Ellen Davis. “We are proud to partner with University of Phoenix once again to recognize 20 more retail professionals for the Dream BIG Scholarship Program and are honored we can contribute to the growth and development of the next generation of retail leaders. ”

“The many facets of the retail industry create exciting opportunities for career growth and upward mobility,” said Ruth Veloria, executive dean for University of Phoenix School of Business. “Rapidly changing technology and consumer behavior make innovation a priority for retail leaders, and education is critical to career advancement and leadership in the industry. University of Phoenix is proud to team up with the National Retail Federation to develop the next generation of retail leaders and provide industry-aligned education.”

The Dream BIG Scholarship Program is open to applicants who reside in the U.S., work full or part time for a retail or restaurant company and meet additional eligibility criteria. Applications will be accepted through March 31, 2016. Retail executives from some of the industry’s most well-known companies will serve as members of the executive judging committee. To learn more about the program, including scholarship terms and conditions and how to apply, visit

The Dream BIG Scholarship Program is made possible through a collaboration between NRF’s nonprofit arm, the NRF Foundation, and University of Phoenix. This is the fourth year the NRF Foundation and University of Phoenix have offered the Dream BIG Scholarship for current retail employees.

In 2015, NRF and University of Phoenix surprised 10 of the Dream BIG scholarship recipients with the big news while they were at work. Watch the video of each surprise. More information about all of the 2015 recipients can be found here.

Recipients can apply their scholarships to a variety of University of Phoenix programs including some that are aligned with NRF standards.


1 National Retail Federation, “The Economic Impact of the U.S. Retail Industry,”
2 National Retail Federation, “Retail Recruiter Toolkit,”
3 Ibid