Updates to Scholastic Awards 2021 464x288Like a school year, the Scholastic Awards program cycle wraps up for students and educators in June, before it starts up again in September. During the summer, the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers staff is busy finding ways to improve the program and make it easier than ever for you to enter the Awards. From category and submission form updates to new self-identification options in student profiles, we’ve made a lot of changes for 2021. We’ll cover them all in this blog post.


Students ages 13 and up residing in the United States, U.S. territories and military bases, or Canada, are invited to submit original work in any of the Awards’ 28 art and writing categories.

Learn more about International Region-at-Large.

Submission Forms

Educators will not be required to sign submission forms. With many schools switching to online learning this year, we want to ensure all students can enter the Awards. Submission forms still require the signatures of the student and their parent or guardian.

Student Profiles

Students can now select their pronouns instead of choosing a gender. There are many options, including Prefer not to say and Prefer to self-describe. Students can also select Prefer not to say or Prefer to self-describe when inputting their ethnicity, and can choose more than one pronoun and ethnicity.

Category Changes

Future New and Video Game Design have been discontinued.

Expanded Projects is a new art category. This category includes interdisciplinary work that is primarily driven by concept or invites participation by a viewer or community. Many submissions that would have been submitted to Future New are still eligible to be submitted under the Expanded Projects category. Visit the Expanded Projects category description for more info.

For the 2021 program year, Art and Writing Portfolios must include six works instead of eight. Students will also be required to submit two statements: an Artist or Writer’s Statement and a Personal Statement. Visit the categories page for more info.


The Alliance/ACT-SO Journey Award

The Alliance/ACT-SO Journey Award, in partnership with the NAACP’s Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO), offers full-tuition scholarships to attend summer art or writing programs to ACT-SO scholars who apply to the Scholastic Awards and receive a Gold or Silver Key.

How to apply: During the online submission process, ACT-SO scholars should opt in for consideration by selecting ACT-SO as their “Other Educational Program.”

Best-in-Grade Award

The Best-in-Grade Award, sponsored by Bloomberg Philanthropies, offers 24 students (two artists and two writers per grade 7–12) with $500 scholarships.

How to apply: All Gold Key-awarded work will be considered.

Civic Expression Award

The Civic Expression Award, sponsored by the Maurice R. Robinson Fund, offers six students whose works explore political or social issues with $1,000 scholarships.

How to apply: During the online submission process, opt in for consideration by responding to the Civic Expression Award prompt.

The Herblock Award for Editorial Cartoon

The Herblock Award for Editorial Cartoon, sponsored by The Herb Block Foundation, offers three students whose visual art offers commentary or criticism on current events, social events, or political topics.

How to apply: All submissions to the Editorial Cartoon category will be considered.

New York Life Award

The New York Life Award, sponsored by the New York Life Foundation, offers $1,000 scholarships to six students whose works explore personal grief and loss. State scholarships of $500 are available to two students from each of the following states: Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and New Mexico.

How to apply: During the online submission process, opt in for consideration by responding to the New York Life Award prompt.

One Earth Award

The One Earth Award, sponsored by the One Earth Fund and the Salamander Fund of the Triangle Community Foundation, offers $1,000 scholarships for four students whose works address the pressing issue of human-caused climate change.

How to apply: During the online submission process, opt in for consideration by responding to the One Earth Award prompt.

Portfolio Awards

The Portfolio Awards, made possible by generous individual donors and other supporters, offer 16 Gold Medal Portfolio recipients with $10,000 scholarships and 30 Silver Medal with Distinction Portfolio recipients with $1,000 scholarships.

How to apply: All graduating seniors submitting portfolios will be considered.

New this year: Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction & Fantasy, sponsored by the Ray Bradbury Foundation, offers $1,000 scholarships for up to six students whose writing uses supernatural, magical, futuristic, scientific, and technological themes as a key element of the narrative.

How to apply: Works in any writing category can be opted in for consideration by responding to the Ray Bradbury Award for Science Fiction & Fantasy prompt.

And that’s it! You’re all caught up and ready to submit to the 2021 Scholastic Awards. If you have questions about the submission process, please visit our FAQ page or contact us at info@artandwriting.org.

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