Since its inception in 1923, the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards program has been dedicated to searching out and celebrating the next generation of emerging visual and literary artists. It is one of the oldest and best-connected of the juried awards programs for young poets, painters, short story writers and sculptors.
Recognition Program for Young Artists and Writers
Regional Scholastic Art & Writing Awards finalists and national medalists receive recognition, monetary awards, scholarship opportunities, public exposure for their work and the prestige of placement in a rigorous competition. Past recipients and judges include accomplished and successful artists and writers, such as Andy Warhol, Sylvia Plath, Ken Burns, Stephen King, and Lena Dunham.
Every academic year (fall through spring), students enrolled in grades seven through 12 in public, private, home school and other sanctioned educational programs in the United States, Canada, American schools abroad, and U.S. territories may submit their work.
Work created in the spring before the next semester (fall) begins is also eligible if the student is still enrolled in school for the upcoming academic year. This is true even if he or she is scheduled to graduate at mid-term (in December).
How to Apply (Individual Entry)
- Get your faculty mentor or educator's email address, as it is needed to complete the sign-up.
- Find your regional Affiliate Partner by going to the competition's guidelines and deadlines page and entering your school's zip code. This will take you to the entry page for your region.
- Read the steps carefully to make sure you understand the category descriptions, deadlines, fees and upload instructions. Follow the directions for your region exactly. Each Affiliate Partner has its own requirements and failure to meet them could disqualify your entry or prevent important notifications from reaching you.
- Also review Scholastic's copyright and plagiarism FAQ, to be sure your work meets legal criteria for submission.
- Create an online account (as directed on your regional site) so you can enter the competition.
- Sign in to your account using the email address and password that you used to register.
- One you've signed into your account, read the upload instructions for your category of artwork or writing.
- Upload your work. (Of course, this assumes you've already created it. If not, check those deadlines and get busy!)
- Print the submission forms.
- Fill out the submission forms in their entirety.
- Have a parent or guardian and an educator - ideally your arts advisor - sign your completed forms.
- Write a check for the fee(s). This can come from a parent's account if you don't have a checking account. The fee is listed on the web page for your regional Affiliate Partner. Each separate submission requires a separate fee. Be sure to include required information on the check. (Your regional Affiliate site lists how to fill out checks.) Some Affiliate Partners will not accept cash.
- If you need to request a fee waiver, print the fee waiver form, and have your parent or guardian sign it.
- Enclose the submission forms and your check or fee waiver form in an envelope addressed as directed on the website. Don't forget the name of the person to whom the entry goes (Attn: Name).
- Use adequate postage. It is advisable to take the envelope to the post office and have the clerk determine sufficient postage.
- Mail the submission forms by the deadline.
If your entry is part of a multiple submission from your school, the teacher or school may send in a submission spreadsheet with all the information, and a check from the school. In that case, you'll have to supply requested contact or identification information to your teacher, but won't need an individual submission form. You may have to provide funds for your entry fee to the school.
What Kind of Work Wins
Just by completing a work of art, you can count yourself a winner. But, if you'd like to take it a step further and evaluate your chances in the competition, check out examples of past National Medalists (the final winners) in the gallery on Scholastic's site and their Pinterest page. The judges look for "work that demonstrates originality, technical skill, and emergence of a personal voice or vision." In other words, you do you - and, if your talent and technique communicate something arresting and interesting, you're on the right track.
Scholastic casts a wide net for talent so there are a number of categories for eligible work. An entry can be a single piece of art or writing. See Scholastic's detailed category descriptions for specific guidelines. If you don't follow the guidelines - including word counts - precisely, your work could be eliminated before it's even considered.
- Ceramics & Glass
- Comic Art
- Digital Art
- Drawing & Illustration
- Editorial Cartoon
- Film & Animation
- Mixed Media
- Video Game Design
- Art Portfolio (Graduating seniors only): Students must submit a related series of eight different original pieces that expand upon a single theme. Video game designs cannot be included.)
- Critical Essay
- Dramatic Script
- Flash Fiction
- Novel Writing
- Personal Essay & Memoir
- Science Fiction & Fantasy
- Short Story
- Writing Portfolio (Graduating seniors only): Work must be individual (not collaborative) and must be primarily rendered in English. There must be eight distinct works that showcase diversity of style and technique. Work cannot be illustrated)
A special category called Future New encourages students to create work way outside-the-box. This category is for work that is concerned with current issues and events, radically thought-provoking, technologically innovative, category-bending, and extremely polished. Those entries may be submitted directly to Scholastic at: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards; ATTN: Future New; 557 Broadway; New York, NY 10012.
Prizes and Pay-off
There are two stages of awards in which you can place: regional and national.
Regional winners receive Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention and American Visions & Voices nominations. Gold Key and American Visions & Voices nominees go to the national finals. Regional winners who are in their senior year are eligible for more than $3.5 million in scholarships from local institutions.
National winners receive the Gold Medal, Silver Medal, Gold Medal Portfolio, Silver Medal with Distinction Portfolio, Silver Medal Portfolio, American Visions & Voices Medal, Best-in-Grade Award, Civic Expression Award, The Herblock Award for Editorial Cartoon, and the New York Life Award, among others.
Scholastic says: "National Medalists receive certificates and medals and are considered for national exhibition, publication, and scholarship opportunities. Gold and Special Award Medalists are also invited to attend the annual National Events in New York City."
Tangible rewards at the national level include sixteen $10,000 scholarships for Gold Medal Portfolios, $1,000 scholarships for all Silver Medal with Distinction Portfolio winners, cash/scholarship awards for specific categories or from program sponsors, and access to about $5 million in partial and full-ride scholarships for 60 arts universities and institutes.
Winning work at the national level has multiple venues for display. National Medalists are listed annually and selected works from those winners show up in several places: the National Catalog; the anthology of Best Teen Writing; and an exhibition program (Art.Write.Now).
Successful participation in the awards competition also opens the door to networking in a peer community of poets, filmmakers, photographers, sculptors, science fiction writers, novelists, video game artists and other serious creative teens. That network, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, hosts the National Student Poets Program, the Scholastic Awards Summer Workshops and Summer Scholarships programs, an Art.Write.Now tour, and other opportunities for engagement and exposure.
Increase Your Odds
Be savvy if you decide to enter. Enlist the help of your school coordinator early in the process to target winning strategies and familiarize yourself with requirements. Then, be meticulous about meeting those requirements.
If you are a homeschooler or unconventional student, do your research and find a mentor, if possible, to help you through the process. A past finalist or winner from your region may be happy to offer advice or evaluate your submission. A local school might include you in its submission prep. Your extra-curricular art or writing coach could be an invaluable source of review and curation.
Setting the Stage for Success
Art of any kind is a tough path to walk. A program that provides material support, encouragement, assistance and a shot at discovery could be a decisive launching pad for your writing or art career.