The Voice of Democracy has been the Veterans of Foreign Wars premier scholarship program since 1947. 9th through 12th grade students compete for more than $2.1 million in college scholarships and awards by writing and recording a broadcast script on a patriotic theme.
The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. Other national scholarships range from $1,000-$16,000, and the first-place winner from Colorado wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to meet and other state first place winners in the national competition.
The all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. includes four fun-filled days of tours, visits to monuments, meeting with heads of state and often the President or Vice President of the United States. The National Judging is held in Washington, D.C. prior to the students' arrival and the winners are announced at a special reception in their honor. In June, each state winner is invited to the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge Freedom and Leadership Youth Conference. The three-day conference allows participating students the opportunity to converse with experts on current issues of citizenship, tour the Philadelphia and Valley Forge historic sites and participate in seminars designed to develop leadership skills and understand the value of community service. The foundations of American democracy and the elements of the free enterprise system will also be explored through thought provoking lectures and workshops.
Who can enter?
The competition is open to students in grades 9-12, who are enrolled in a public, private, parochial high school or a home study program in the United States, its territories and possessions; or in an overseas U.S. military/civilian dependent school. Foreign exchange students, students age 20 or over and previous Voice of Democracy first place state winners are ineligible.
What do students need to enter?
Students should record their reading of the draft to an audio CD or flash drive. The recording can be no shorter than three minutes and no longer than five minutes (plus or minus five seconds).
The 2017 - 2018 theme: American History: Our Hope for the Future
Each year more than 125,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The first-place winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $50,000, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in March.
The essay contest encourages young minds to examine America’s history, along with their own experiences in modern American society, by drafting a 300 to 400 word essay, expressing their views based on a patriotic theme chosen by the VFW Commander-in-Chief.
Who can enter? The competition is open to students in grades 6-8, who are enrolled in public, private or parochial school or home study program in the U.S., its territories or its possessions. Dependents of U.S. military or civilian personnel in overseas schools can participate too. (Foreign exchange students and former winners that placed in the National finals are excluded from the contest.)
What do students need to do to enter? Students submit a 300 – 400 word original essay on the theme listed below. See the rules for details.
The 2017- 2018 theme is: America's Gift to my Generation
Without our nation’s veterans, America wouldn't be the great nation it is today. Our youth deserve to learn about our rich history, traditions and the role of our veterans in creating and shaping America. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Teacher of the Year award contest recognizes three exceptional teachers for their outstanding commitment to teaching Americanism and patriotism to their students. Each year, a classroom elementary, junior high, and high school teacher whose curriculum focuses on citizenship education topics—for at least half of the school day in a classroom environment—can be nominated for the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award.
- A $1,000 award for professional development expenses.
A $1,000 award for his/her school.
Two award plaques: one for the teacher, the other for his/her school.
An all-expenses-paid trip to attend a VFW conference to receive their award
Who Should be Nominated?
Teachers who promote civic responsibility, flag etiquette and patriotism are prime candidates for the award. If you know a teacher who plans field trips to city hall, organizes community volunteer projects or invites local veterans to speak in class, anything to help students develop a better understanding of democratic values and beliefs, this award is for them.
- Deadline: Submit nomination to a local VFW Post by October 31st.
- Find a local VFW Post at www.vfw.org/find-a-post
- Eligibility and Rules are available here.
- Nomination form is available here.
Some of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) earliest ties to the community involve youth groups and perhaps none are stronger or more lasting than the relationship between the VFW and America's scouting organizations.
Annually, the Veterans of Foreign Wars recognizes Eagle Scouts, Venture Silver Award recipients or Sea Scout Quartermasters who have risen above their peers in exemplifying the exceptional qualities of that rank with a $5,000 scholarship. Candidates must be exceptional in all six of the critical elements of healthy youth development as defined by The Louis Harris & Associates, Inc.
Who can enter:
Scouts who are registered, active members of a Boy Scout Troop, Venturing Crew, or a Sea Scout Ship who have received the Eagle Scout Award, Venture Silver Award or Sea Scout Quartermaster Award.
Scouts must be 15 years of age and have demonstrated practical citizenship in school, scouting and the community.
Scouts must be enrolled in high school at the time of selection (applicants still in high school who reach their 18th birthday during the nomination year remain eligible if otherwise qualified)
How the contest works: Local VFW Posts select one winner from the entries received. Posts then submit their local winner to their respective VFW Department (state) by April 1. From there, the Department selects a winner and forwards the entry to the VFW National Headquarters by May 1 for national-level judging. Colorado department winners are recognized at the State VFW Convention, in 2017 the State VFW Convention.
How to enter: Scouts submit the completed VFW Scouting Scholarship form, resume of high school activities, scouting record, community service record and letters of recommendation to a local VFW Post no later than March 1st.