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.

VOD winner

Voice of Democracy

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 64,500 9-12 grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $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. Want to apply? Read the rules and eligibility requirements, and download the 2020-21 entry form application, as all student entries must be submitted to a sponsoring local VFW Post by midnight, Oct. 31.

 

The 2020-21 theme is: 
Is This the Country the Founders Envisioned?


About the 2019-20 winner ...

Shruthi Kumar, a high school senior from Marian High School in Omaha, Nebraska, was named the 2019-20 Voice of Democracy first place winner. Shruthi's speech on the theme, "What Makes America Great," won her a $30,000 college scholarship. Shruthi was sponsored by VFW Post 1581 in Omaha, Nebraska. Watch as Shruthi delivered her winning speech during the Parade of Winners ceremony at the 2020 VFW Legislative Conference.

Want to catch up on everything that happened this year? You can watch the Parade of Winners ceremony from the 2020 VFW Legislative Conference, see this year's complete list of winners, or listen to the winning essay from your state. 

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The true character of America is measured by her communities
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Patriots Pen winner

Patriot's Pen

Each year more than 165,400 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of more than $1.4 million in state and national awards. Each first place state winner receives a minimum of $500 at the national level, and the national first place winner wins $5,000! 

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 download the 2020-21 entry form application as all student entries must be submitted to a sponsoring local VFW Post by midnight, Oct. 31.

 

The 2020-21 theme is: 
What is Patriotism to Me?


About the 2019-20 winner ...

Ruby Howe, a seventh grade student from Rochester Hills, Michigan, was named the 2019-20 Patriot's Pen first place winner. Her essay on the theme, "What Makes America Great," won her a $5,000 award. Ruby was sponsored by VFW Post 334 in Lake Orion, Michigan.

Watch as Ruby delivered her winning essay, or see the complete list of 2020 national winners.

Attention Teachers! 

NASSP Logo

The National Association of Secondary School Principals has placed this program on the NASSP National Advisory List of Contests and Activities for 2019-20. 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.


Get Acquainted with VFW's Programs


National Scholarship Programs Brochure

 

 

 

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