Show Me the Money!
Kids do the darndest things, but now they can get paid for them – the ones that show particular talent or creativity, that is.
With financial planning at the forefront of most families’ concerns, it’s never too early to start building a nest egg for your child’s top-notch education. To get kids in on that process early, here we look at 11 opportunities for kids under 13 to use their talents for their own good.
Some of these scholarships cover multiple years of Ivy League education, while others have the potential to transform a community for good. Either way, kids love being honored for their achievements, and parents will love the money that comes with those honors.
Read carefully, because some deadlines are approaching quickly.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army
Mounting evidence suggests we’re in a midst of worldwide climate change that has made sustainability and green living top priorities for the future of our civilization. While it’s easy for older people to make light of the potential effects on the planet, today’s children are the ones who will have to deal with it.
Thankfully, some children are taking matters into their own hands, and the San Francisco-based nonprofit Action for Nature has taken it upon itself to reward them with its Eco-Hero Award. The organization invites kids 8 to 16 to submit self-initiated projects that concern environmental health and conservation for multiple prizes of up to $500. Last year’s winners included projects on protecting horseshoe crabs, planting trees, creating a community garden, and launching an advocacy website. Multiple prizes are offered in the 8-13 age group, as well as the 14-16 group.
Deadline: Feb. 28, 2011
Photo Credit: Action for Nature
Being a science teacher may not be the most glamorous job in the world, but as the first link in the chain that leads to innovation in math and technology, it’s arguably one of the most important. To bring some diversity to the field, the National Science Teachers Association created the Angela Award to support girls with a strong interest in science.
The $1,000 award will be given to one female student in the U.S. or Canada in grades 5-8 who displays a commitment to science. The application is based primarily on a letter of nomination from a teacher, parent or community leader, with supporting pictures and clippings that help document the student’s accomplishments.
Deadline: Nov. 30
Photo Credit: National Science Teachers Association
Just as Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing challenged Brooklyn residents to take the initiative in improving race relations in their community, the Do Something Awards challenge American and Canadian students under 25 to take a leading role in bettering theirs.
As a testament to how important such community-led efforts are, the grand-prize winner of the Do Something Awards will win a whopping $100,000 grant to a nonprofit organization of his or her choice. Five nominees will also win $10,000 for their chosen organizations, and all winners have the option to take $5,000 of their prize money in the form of an educational scholarship. If community improvement is not motivation enough, then mountains of cash should motivate everyone to get up and do something!
Deadline: March 1, 2011
Photo Credit: Do Something!
Christopher Columbus Awards
While opinion is divided over whether Christopher Columbus actually “discovered” anything (after all, people were already living in every place his boats landed), the explorer’s skill and determination set him on an historic voyage that has been remembered for hundreds of years. It is in this spirit that the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, offers the Christopher Columbus Community Service Awards to teams of three to four students from 6th to 8th grade who use science and technology to solve real-world community problems.
Eight teams will be selected as finalists to travel all expenses paid to Walt Disney World in Florida for the final round of competition in June, where the winning team will get a $25,000 grant to bring its project to life in the community. Last year’s grand prize went to a team that developed a ripcord-type tool to help people suffering from arthritis open doorknobs. Two gold medal awards, which earn each team member a $2,000 cash prize, were given to one team pursuing an outreach effort to educate community members about the local gypsy moth population, and another that was recognized for its efforts to retrofit inefficient fluorescent lighting with more energy-efficient systems.
Deadline: Feb. 7, 2011
Photo Credit: Christopher Columbus Awards
Courage in Student Journalism
Despite the troubles in the news business brought on by the shifting fortunes of print and online journalism, some organizations (MainStreet included) believe in the power of information and its value in a democratic society. Too often the powers that be try to distort the news, and the Courage in Student Journalism Awards honors those who persist in their efforts to spread the truth.
The $1,000 award, sponsored by a consortium of groups supporting free speech, is given every year to a middle school (although titled the High School Award, it is available to students in middle schools as well) journalist who has “shown determination, despite difficulty or resistance, in lawfully exercising his or her First Amendment press rights.”
Deadline: Aug. 1, 2011
Photo Credit: Student Press Law Center
Young brilliance is always more impressive than adult brilliance, and the opportunity to become a Davidson Fellow brings extraordinary young people cash and recognition unmatched by any other award. Any American student under 18 (as of Oct. 1, 2011) can apply, as long as he or she has completed a “significant piece of work” in the fields of mathematics, science, literature, music, technology, philosophy, or a category called “out of the box.”
The program defines an important work as “an accomplishment that experts in the field recognize as significant and has the potential to make a positive contribution to society.” It also rewards brilliant ideas with scholarships of $10,000 to $50,000. This year, three students won $50,000 awards, nine students received $25,000, and eight winners received $10,000 scholarships. The youngest, a 13-year-old from Pennsylvania, won $50,000 for his work on classical music awareness.
Deadline: Feb. 16, 2011
Photo Credit: Davidson
Blick’s Linoleum Block Print Contest
For the creative geniuses, the Blick art supply store offers students in three grade divisions (4-6, 7-9, and 10-12) the opportunity to win a batch of art supplies for their school from Blick’s own catalog. How? By creating a linoleum block print (no wood), of course.
It may sound strange, but this year’s winners were able to turn squares of linoleum into masterworks of art that one would never associate with the cheap plastic flooring. Multiple first prizes win $400 worth of material, with awards going down to $50 for honorable mentions.
Deadline: March 15, 2011
Photo Credit: Blick
Girls Going Places
Gender equality can’t be expected to happen automatically in a society that has long rewarded men more than women for comparable achievements, and the Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Award Program aims to nurture young women who show initiative in their schools and communities.
Open to girls between 12 and 18 years old, the contest, sponsored by the Guardian Life Insurance Company, grants $10,000 to the first-prize winner, with $5,000 going to second place, $3,000 for third, and $1,000 for each of the 12 finalists.
Deadline: Feb. 28, 2011
Photo Credit: Girls Going Places
Prize for Young Heroes
While generosity and thoughtfulness are values any parent would want to impart to their children, it’s hard to quantify exactly what that means. In honor of the difference that his mother made in his life, Thomas A. Barron created the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for kids aged 8 to 18 who have “made a significant positive difference to people and our planet,” as the prize website says.
Every year, 25 winners from around the country receive awards of $2,500, roughly half for their efforts to improve the lives of other people, half for their efforts to improve the lives of all people by protecting the planet.
Deadline: April 30, 2011
Photo Credit: Barron Prize
Letters About Literature
With print books going the way of the Dodo, it’s little surprise the Library of Congress partnered with Target to support young readers and writers through the Letters About Literature prize.
The organizers have already logged 10,000 essays from students in grades 4 to 12 about how an author’s work changed their view of themselves and the world around them.
Think the power of books is overrated? You may not after learning about one 2008 winner, who was inspired to reform his bullying behavior after reading Ben Mikaelson’s Touching Spirit Bear. Let’s see an iPad do that.
Deadline: Dec. 10
Photo Credit: Letters About Literature
Editorial Cartoon Contest
Editorial cartoons are wonderful in that they masterfully bring the news to life while injecting some humor into the world of international geopolitics. Good cartoons are hard to dream up, so our info-tainment future is dependent on developing those talents early.
An effort to that comes from the NewsCurrents Student Editorial Cartoon Contest, which is open to students at all grade levels between kindergarten and 12th grade (split up into three groups: K-6, 7-9 and 10-12). As the website jokes, “Students may submit as many cartoons as they wish, but students with time to submit more than ten might want to consider getting a life.”
Winners are given time-deferred cash prizes in the form of U.S. Savings Bonds and while the group won’t say how much those bonds are worth, they’ll have trouble matching the laughs that these hilarious images create.
Deadline: March 7, 2011
Photo Credit: NewsCurrents