The James and Nellie Butler Scholarship for Community Service

The Albemarle County Democratic Party is pleased to open applications for the 2024 James R. and Nellie M. Butler Scholarship. The county Democratic Party has endowed this scholarship in memory of the Butlers and to honor their surpassing contributions and service to the community in which they lived. Of special import to all of us in Albemarle County was their support of public education and dedication to public service. Our scholarship committee will select one graduating senior from each of the four Albemarle County public high schools, who will be judged on the basis of their academic record, their commitment to and demonstrated record of public service, and financial need.

Since the inauguration of these scholarships, the Albemarle County Democratic Party has provided over $35,000 in college scholarship funds to area public high school students who have exemplified and continued the honorable tradition of the Butlers exemplary commitment to public service.

About the Butlers

James and Nellie Butler lived in Albemarle County for over 40 years, where they were recognized as leaders in public education and public affairs, voter registration, civic engagement, and in their own vibrant church community.

In 1981, James R. Butler became the first African American in Albemarle County to be elected to the County Board of Supervisors, representing the county’s Rivanna District, where he quickly established himself as a champion of fair and equitable teacher salaries. He was a strong and persistent advocate for quality education in Albemarle County schools, an active defender of voter rights, and a leader of recurring voter registration efforts.

Working tirelessly to ensure that the Supervisors would represent all members of the Albemarle community, Mr. Butler also played a vital role in the establishment of the Charlottesville–Albemarle Technical Education Center. He was the first African American executive director of an extension service office in Virginia, a position in which he served for 26 years. James was also a U.S. Army veteran, a deacon and trustee at the St. John Baptist Church (Cobham, VA), and a board member of the Thomas Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District, the Ivy Creek Foundation, and the Charlottesville NAACP. Recognizing James for his many contributions to Albemarle County in 2000, Baker-Butler Elementary School was named for him and for John E. Baker, the first African American chairman of the Albemarle County School Board. Born in Woodville, Virginia on November 15, 1914, James passed away on March 9, 2003.

Nellie M. Butler worked as a teacher in technical education, and also served as a Girl Scout leader and a 4-H advisor for much of her adult life. She taught at Piedmont Technical Education Center in Culpeper for over 25 years and, alongside her husband James, worked tirelessly on behalf of numerous civic engagement and voter registration efforts. Born in Baltimore, Maryland on March 29, 1923, Nellie passed away on December 28, 2015.

Scholarship Application Form



Deadline: Monday, May 1, 2024

Each year, one senior from each of the four Albemarle County public high schools is picked to receive a $2,000 scholarship. These four students must be planning to attend post-secondary college, university, or an accredited technical or vocational school, and have contributed to their community.

1. Fill out and submit this form online.

2. In Google Drive, upload your high school transcript and a letter of recommendation from a non-family member, teacher, supervisor, or mentor. Share both documents/pdfs with butlerscholarship@albemarledems.org.

Any questions should be directed to the Butler Scholarship Committee: butlerscholarship@albemarledems.org.