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College Scholarships for Kids: It’s Never Too Soon to Start Saving!

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Some financial experts claim the economy is starting to turn around, but one thing’s for sure: college isn’t getting any cheaper.

In the midst of higher education budget cuts and rapidly rising tuition, more and more cash-strapped parents are dipping into their dwindling retirement accounts, sending their kids to community college over elite private universities, or telling their kids to foot the bill themselves.

10 College Scholarships for Kids, Tweens and Teens

Even if your child isn’t yet a teenager, these 10 contests and college scholarships for kids might come in handy. After all, it’s never too soon to start saving for college.

P.S. As always, don’t forget to beware of “scholarships” that ask for application fees or any other money out of your pocket.

1. Action for Nature Eco-Hero Awards

Action For Nature, an international San Francisco-based non-profit organization that encourages young people to take personal action to better their environments and foster love and respect for nature, honors the work of young people between the ages of eight and sixteen who have done creative environmental projects.

The winners of Action For Nature’s International Young Eco-Hero Awards program receive a cash prize and a special certificate along with public recognition on the organization’s website. Projects must be action-based and self-initiated (not assigned by teachers or other adults) and concern environmental health, advocacy, research or protection of the natural world.

More Information: Eco-Hero Awards

2. Angela Award

Sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association, the largest organization in the world committed to promoting excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all, the Angela Award honors one female student who is involved in or has a strong connection to science.

Open to female public, private, or home schooled students in grades 5 through 8 who are residents of the United States, US territories, and Canada, the Angela Award winner will be honored at the Teachers Awards Banquet at the NSTA National Conference and receive a $1,000 US EE Savings Bond or Canada Savings Bond purchased for the equivalent issue price.

More information: Angela Award

3. Christopher Columbus Awards

Sponsored by the Christopher Columbus Fellowship Foundation, an independent federal government agency established to encourage and support research, study and labor designed to produce new discoveries in all fields of endeavor for the benefit of mankind, the Christopher Columbus Awards is a national, community-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program for middle school students.

In teams of three or four students with an adult coach, middle school students must identify a problem in their community and apply the scientific method to create an innovative solution to that problem. Eight finalist teams and their coaches will receive all-expenses-paid trips to Walt Disney World to attend National Championship Week, where they will compete for valuable U.S. Savings Bonds as well as the $25,000 Columbus Foundation Community Grant, plus a $200 development grant to further refine their idea.

More information: Christopher Columbus Awards

4. Davidson Fellows Scholarships

Awarded annually by the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting profoundly gifted students under the age of eighteen, the Davidson Fellows awards $50,000, $25,000 and $10,000 scholarships to extraordinary young people who have completed a significant piece of work.

Interested students must have completed a significant piece of work in mathematics, science, literature, music, technology, philosophy or “outside the box." Students must be able to demonstrate that the work is their own creation and be able to attend the Davidson Fellows awards reception in Washington, D.C. with at least one parent or guardian should they win a scholarship.

More information: Davidson Fellows Scholarships

5. Earth Island Institute’s Brower Youth Awards

Established in 2000 by the Earth Island Institute, a non-profit public interest membership organization that supports people who are creating solutions to protect our shared planet, the Brower Youth Awards is an annual national award recognizing six young people between the ages of 13 and 22 for outstanding activism and achievements on a project or campaign with positive environmental and social impact.

Award recipients receive access to other resources and opportunities to further their environmental leadership work, including a $3,000 cash prize and an all-expense paid weeklong trip to the San Francisco Bay Area.

More information: Brower Youth Awards

6. Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Award

Sponsored by Guardian, one of the largest mutual life insurance companies in America, the Girls Going Places Entrepreneurship Awards Program grants prizes to 15 girls who demonstrate budding entrepreneurship; are taking the first steps toward financial independence; and are making a difference in their schools and communities.

Every year, prizes totaling $30,000 are granted to three top winners and 12 finalists to further their entrepreneurial pursuits or save for college.

More information: Girls Going Places

7. Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes

Founded in 2001 by author T. A. Barron in honor of his mother, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes recognizes outstanding young leaders between the ages of eight and eighteen who have made a significant positive difference to people and our planet.

Each year, the Barron Prize honors 25 winners nationwide; half of the winners have focused on helping their communities and fellow beings while half have focused on protecting the health and sustainability of the environment. The goal of the Barron Prize is to celebrate such heroic young people and inspire others to do their part. Students must be nominated by adults who have solid knowledge of the nominee and his or her work but who are not related to the nominee.

More information: Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes

8. Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program

In 2000, Jack Kent Cooke, a self-made billionaire of humble beginnings, launched the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, a private, independent organization that helps exceptionally promising students reach their full potential through education.

Considered the most personalized, generous scholarship experience in the nation, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s Young Scholars Program was designed to nurture exceptional students who have demonstrated through academic excellence and extracurricular activities that they have the potential to excel. Students apply for the program in 7th grade, enter the program in 8th grade and continue through high school. After high school, Young Scholars are also eligible to apply for continued undergraduate and graduate support from the Foundation – ten or more years of assistance total for educational pursuits

More information: Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program

9. Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program

Created by Kohl’s department stores, each year the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program recognizes and rewards young volunteers between the ages of six and eighteen for their amazing contributions to their communities.

Students’ actions must be described in detail and should document efforts above and beyond what is expected of a child his or her age. Winners are chosen based on the project, benefits and outcome. Store winners will receive Kohl’s gift cards, while regional winners will each be awarded a $1,000 scholarship for post-secondary education. National winners will each be awarded a total of $10,000 in scholarships for post-secondary education, and Kohl’s will donate $1,000 to a non-profit organization on each winner’s behalf.

More information: Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program

10. Letters About Literature

A national reading promotion program of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress sponsored by Target and affiliate state centers for the book, Letters About Literature awards thousands of dollars through state and national prizes and library grants each year.

Students in grades 4 through 12 write a letter to an author describing how that author’s work somehow changed the reader’s view of the world or himself/herself. The students must respond to the book they’ve read by exploring the personal relationship between themselves, the author and the book’s characters or themes.

More information: Letters About Literature


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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