Skip to main content

Mac Smith Scholarship

Mac Donald "Mac" Smith Scholarship - Open until June 1st, 2024

 A person smiling for the camera

Description automatically generated with medium confidence

In honor of MacDonald Smith, The Smith Family and the Iowa Federation of Labor are offering this scholastic scholarship.

MacDonald Smith, better known as Mac, was a second-generation Iowa Labor Union lawyer. He started working in his father’s law firm at the age of ten. Early on Mac learned the challenges and importance of being an advocate for the working person. Throughout his life he worked diligently, both politically and academically, to advocate and represent those working people regardless of their financial status or diversity.

Mac was valedictorian of his high school class, graduated from the University of Notre Dame Magna cum laude, and graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa Collage of Law. He was a man of integrity known for his forthrightness, calm rational presence, his dry sense of humor and true humility.

He was a lifelong learner who valued education. He taught labor law courses as an adjunct at the University of Iowa Labor Center for over 40 years.

As a political activist, he served in various capacities for many campaigns over the years. He was well known for his ability to statistically get out the vote on election day. For decades, Mac was the point person, methodically calculating which areas of the city working folks were registered. He would successfully, based on those registered voters, direct the election day get out the vote canvassing. Hence, his expertise impacted many elections over the years. In 1996, Mac ran for the United States Congress.

In 2004 he was inducted into the Northwest Iowa Labor Council Hall of Fame and in 2014 in the Iowa Federation of Labor Hall of Fame. In 2017, he was presented an award for outstanding leadership in politics.

Application Criteria:

1. Eligible applicants are the immediate family members (children/grandchildren, stepchildren/grandchildren, foster children/grandchildren, spouses) of individuals who are members in good standing of a recognized labor union.

2. Scholarship is open to those pursuing a post-secondary education. For example, a community college, college, university, trade school, apprenticeship school, etc.

3. Assistance is available to applicants for program expenses incurred after July 1, 2024.

4. Application and Essay Submissions can be made using this link or pdf submission:


Google Form Application: Mac Smith Scholarship Application 


PDF Application: Mac Smith Scholarship 


PDF Application

Please answer the essay question in the Google Form provided, or mail/email the completed pdf application as noted in the application. As a rising high school graduate, please respond to the following question as it pertains to the contents of Mac’s legal report to the 2017 convention (link below) addressing the dramatic legislative attacks on workers’ rights. Mac speaks of the moral crisis our country faces in terms of workers protection and their rights. How would you respond?

Your response cannot exceed 250 words.

The second criteria is for you as an applicant to attend some kind of public forum and document your experience. Write a brief summary of that meeting. For example, you could attend a school board meeting, city or county board meeting, caucus, zoning commission meeting or a political candidate’s debate.

MacDonald “Mac” Smith, Iowa Federation of Labor 2017 Convention Speech

5. Assistance available: The Mac Smith Scholarship Committee will award a scholarship in the amount of $1,000.

6. DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS AND ACCOUNTABILITY: Once the student recipient is accepted into the academic program of their choice, The Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO will disburse the scholarship amount specified to the applicable Student Financial Aid Office or to the student. The student recipient is responsible for providing the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO with the disbursement request form and prior to making its disbursement, proof of enrollment.

Scholarship funds will be disbursed directly to the school for payment of tuition, room, board, books or fees. For students who are enrolled in an apprenticeship program, receipts of proof of purchase of school/apprenticeship related materials or tools must be provided to Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer for reimbursement. Awards are for continuous years of study at the selected institution. Students must notify the Iowa Federation of Labor AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer in writing before changing academic institutions.


7. Important dates:

Application available on March 1, 2024

Application & Essay deadline June 1, 2024

Recipient announced by July 1, 2024

Recognition at the Iowa Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO Annual Convention on August 21st-23rd, 2024

Contact Peter Hird at for any questions.