The Bill Kraus Fund

The Bill Kraus Memorial Scholarship Fund is a living legacy in honor of Bill Kraus, an advocate for social justice and associate of Harvey Milk, and to assist students with need in their pursuit of a higher education.

The fund provides college scholarships to seniors and graduates of Cincinnati's St. Xavier High School, where Bill Kraus graduated in 1965. Candidates will demonstrate solid academic credentials, have a need for financial assistance in college or university, and most importantly embody the courage and mindful tenacity for social change and friendship for LGBTQ+ fellow students, family members, and adult leaders of St. Xavier High School.

The fund was founded in 2015 and its donors are independent of the school. The fund represents the generous gifts of those within and outside of the Cincinnati area; the alumni, retirees, and community of St. X; members of the LGBTQ+ communities and their friends and supporters; as well as those who simply wish to support the fund and honor the legacy of Bill Kraus. The Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1918, provides the management and proper stewardship of the fund.

To contact the fund's board, to learn more, or to get added to our contact lists, please email


Gifts of all amounts are received gratefully and with pleasure. We thank you for your generosity.

You may donate by mailing a check payable to "Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation" to 602 Main St., Suite 1000, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Please be sure to indicate "Bill Kraus Fund" in the notation.

You may also donate online using a credit card. Please visit the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation's online donation page, click the button to access the donation form, and make sure to enter "Bill Kraus Fund" in the "In Memory Of" field, to ensure that your donation is directed towards this scholarship.

Applying for the Scholarship

Applications open in January each year. The amount of the award(s) depends on the decisions of the board and on fundraising, but will be no less than $500 per academic year. Please visit the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation website directly for application information.

A recipient of a scholarship from the Bill Kraus Memorial Scholarship Fund must:
  • Be a graduating senior at St. Xavier High School (Cincinnati) with a minimum 2.0 GPA 
  • Be enrolled or plan to enroll as a Full-Time student at a two-year or four-year non-proprietary college/university 
  • Show a proven financial need 
  • Fill out a Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation application and submit it to the Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation to their main office at 602 Main Street, Suite 1000, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202 by April 30. 
  • Additionally (upload with application), candidates will write a one-page, single-spaced essay telling the story of how they have embodied Bill Kraus’ values: courage and mindful tenacity for social change and friendship with LGBTQ+ fellow students, family members, and adult-leaders of St. Xavier High School. 
  • Additionally (upload with application), candidates will have a non-family member write a letter of recommendation and submit it to Cincinnati Scholarship Foundation. A letter could be submitted from a counselor, teacher, administrator, coach, employer, mentor, club moderator, etc. 
  • It is possible for prior Bill Kraus Memorial Scholarship earners to reapply for an additional scholarship after their first year of college/university. Candidates will need to complete all requirements above, with the exception of the essay submissions, plus maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA throughout their college or university career. 
  • It is also possible for St. Xavier High School graduates currently enrolled in college/university with another full year of college/university classes remaining who have not received a prior Bill Kraus Memorial Scholarship to apply for a scholarship. Candidates will need to complete all requirements above, plus maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA throughout their college or university career.

About Bill Kraus

William James "Bill" Kraus (June 26, 1947 – January 11, 1986) was born in Fort Mitchell, KY and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 1965. He graduated from Ohio State University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history. Bill embodied the phrase “Man for Others” even before St. Xavier High School began using the motto.

Bill moved to San Francisco in 1976 where he worked for and with Harvey Milk who rose from Castro Street camera store owner and organizer to City Supervisor. Milk was one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States, if not the world over, until his assassination in 1978. Bill appears in the Oscar-winning documentary, Times of Harvey Milk.

Bill continued his work with San Francisco City Council and later with the U.S. Congress as an aide to Representatives Phillip & Sala Burton.

Bill’s leadership was critical during the 1980‘s AIDS crisis as he advocated for funding at the national level for AIDS research. Tragically, Bill died of AIDS himself in 1986 at the young age of 38.

Bill was a central character in the 1987 book And the Band Played On, by Randy Shilts, and was portrayed by Sir Ian McKellen in the 1993 movie version of the book. Shilts tells the story of the AIDS crisis and the incredible political challenges of securing funding from the Reagan Administration to find a cure or at least slow the progress of the disease. Randy Shilts and many others maintain that homophobia was the reason so many people were allowed to die of this terrible new disease.

It took years for adequate funding to be made available for the necessary research to even discover the cause of so many dying of this new disease -- let alone creating funding toward a cure. Our country and our world owe huge thanks to Bill Kraus and many courageous voices for standing up for people who were dying of a terribly frightening new disease that, at the time, was difficult to even ascertain.

More than 650,000 people have died of HIV/AIDS in the United States. More than 1.1 million people live with the disease today. According to the World Health Organization, more than 39 million people worldwide have died of HIV/AIDS since the epidemic began in 1976.