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 $35,000 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 25,000 ninth through 12th grade students from across the country enter to win their share of more than $1 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the program. 

The national first place winner receives a $35,000 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-$21,000, and the first place winner from each VFW Department (state) wins at least a scholarship of $1,000. Before submitting your essay, download the 2024-2025 entry form here and find your sponsoring local VFW Post as applications must be turned in by midnight, Oct. 31


The 2024-25 theme is: 
"Is America Today Our Forefathers' Vision?"

About the 2023-2024 winner ...

Sophia Lin, a high school junior at BASIS Scottsdale in Scottsdale, Arizona, was named the 2023-2024 Voice of Democracy first place winner. Sophia's speech on the theme, "What Are the Greatest Attributes of Our Democracy?" won her a $35,000 college scholarship. Sophia was sponsored by Scottsdale VFW Post 3513. Watch as Sophia delivered her speech during the VFW's Parade of Winners award ceremony or read it here.

Want to catch up on everything that happened this year? You can watch the full Parade of Winners ceremony which was streamed live on Facebook, or see this year's complete list of winners.

Patriots Pen winner

Patriot's Pen

Each year, nearly 68,800 students in sixth through eighth grades enter the VFW’s Patriot’s Pen youth essay contest for a chance to win their share of nearly $1 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. Before submitting your essay, download the 2024-2025 entry form here and find your sponsoring local VFW Post as applications must be turned in by midnight, Oct. 31

The 2024-25 theme is: 
"My Voice in America's Democracy?"

About the 2023-2024 winner ...

Bryant Day, an eighth grade student from Ashland, Ohio, was named the 2023-2024 Patriot's Pen first place winner. His essay on the theme, "How Are You Inspired by America?" won the national first place $5,000 award. Bryant was sponsored by VFW Post 9943 and its Auxiliary in Mansfield, Ohio.

Watch as Bryant delivered his winning essay during the VFW's Parade of Winners streamed live on Facebook, or read his essay here. See the complete list of 2024 national winners.

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