Riley Burnell Criminal Justice Memorial Scholarship Fund

The Riley Burnell Criminal Justice Memorial Scholarship Fund honors the memory of Riley Burnell by awarding a college scholarship to a student from Koochiching County who is interested in pursuing a career in criminal justice.

Riley Burnell was born in 1988 in International Falls. Even as a boy, he wanted to be a police officer. He graduated from Rainy River Community College, Bemidji State University and Alexandria Technical College. He worked part-time for the Koochiching County Sheriff’s Office and the International Falls Police Department.

In 2012, Riley and his wife were taking a day trip to Duluth when a distracted driver crossed the center line and hit their car head-on, killing them both. Riley had only worked at both police agencies for about a year and one-half, but he made such an impact that both departments retired his badge number.


  • Must be a resident of Koochiching County – high schools in area include: Indus High School, Falls High School, Littlefork-Big Falls High School, Northome Secondary High School, Adult Learning Center ISD 361
  • Demonstrate Financial Need
  • GPa: 3.0 or higher
  • Field of Study: Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice, Conservation Officer, Border Patrol, all justice related
  • Demonstrate citizenship and community involvement


Scholarship Grant Range

$2,500 for one year


Application timeline

  • This scholarship is part of the Universal Application: December 1 – February 15
  • ONE Universal Application: Create a profile in the scholarship portal. Fill out the first page of the universal application to filter through all of the scholarships you qualify for. 


Award Details

  • This scholarship may be used for expenses of post-secondary education at any accredited college, university or technical/ vocational school
  • Award Payments will be mailed directly to the school/ university 
    • Fall Payments are mailed July 15-30
    • Spring Payments are mailed December 15-30
  • Transferring Schools: Please contact DSACF if you plan on transferring schools. Transferring schools does not automatically transfer your scholarship. If a transfer occurs after scholarship money has been disbursed it may take up to 90 days to reprocess the scholarship payment. 


Tax information

DSACF encourages scholarship recipients to seek tax advice regarding scholarships. According to the IRS: Scholarships, fellowship grants, and other grants are tax-free if you meet the following conditions:

  • You’re a candidate for a degree at an educational institution that maintains a regular faculty and curriculum and normally has a regularly enrolled body of students in attendance at the place where it carries on its educational activities; and
  • The amounts you receive are used to pay for tuition and fees required for enrollment or attendance at the educational institution, or for fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for courses at the educational institution.

Indus High School, Falls High School, Littlefork-Big Falls High School, Northome Secondary High School, Adult Learning Center ISD 361