Youth Scholarships

The VFW is dedicated to promoting patriotism and investing in our future generation. If you are a democracy-loving high school student interested in a $30,000 college scholarship or a patriotic middle school student interested in winning $5,000, these scholarships may be for you.

Voice of Democracy

VOD winner



Established in 1947, our Voice of Democracy audio-essay program provides high school students with the unique opportunity to express themselves in regards to a democratic and patriotic-themed recorded essay. Each year, nearly 40,000 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of $2.1 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program. 

The national first-place winner receives a $30,000 scholarship paid directly to the recipient’s American university, college or vocational/technical school. A complete list of other national scholarships range from $1,000-$16,000, and the first-place winner from each VFW Department (state) wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. Want to apply? Read the rules and eligibility requirements and check back when the 2017-18 competition opens in early 2017.

The 2016-17 theme is: 
My Responsibility to America


About the 2015-16 winner...

Grayson Campbell, a senior at Covenant Christian School, was named the 2015-16 Voice of Democracy first-place winner. Grayson's speech on the 2015-16 theme, "My Vision for America," won him a $30,000 college scholarship which he plans to apply toward his college career. Grayson was sponsored by VFW Post 10555 and its Auxiliary in Panama City Beach, Fla.

Watch Grayson deliver his speech, read his essay, or see the complete list of all 2016 winners.

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Patriot's Pen

Patriots Pen winner


Each year more than 132,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest. The national first-place winner wins $5,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. The first-place winner from each state competes for national awards totaling $54,500, with each first-place state winner receiving a minimum of $500 at the national level. 

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. Want to apply? Read the rules and eligibility requirements and check back when the 2017-18 contest opens in early 2017. 


The 2016-17 theme is: 
The America I Believe In


About the 2015-16 winner...

Shane Stafford, a 6th-grade student, was named the 2015-16 Patriot's Pen first-place winner. His essay on the 2015-16 theme, "What Freedom Means to Me," won him a $5,000 award. Shane was sponsored by VFW Post 10468 and its Auxiliary in Searchlight, Nev.

Watch Shane deliver his winning essay, read his essay see the complete list of 2016 national winners.

Attention Teachers! 


The National Association of Secondary School Principals has placed this program on the NASSP National Advisory List of Contests and Activities for 2016-17. We thank all of America's teachers and youth leaders for the time, effort and commitment they invest in our young people each year. We have a number of ways in which to assist you in helping to ensure your students get a head start on their future.

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