Voice of Democracy 2017-18 “American History: Our Hope for the Future”
1st Place – $100 2nd Place – $50 3rd Place – $25
State level prizes range from $400 – $1,200
National level prizes range from $1,000 – $30,000
Each year, nearly 38,000 high school students from across the country enter to win a share of the $2.2 million in educational scholarships and incentives awarded through the VFW’s Voice of Democracy audio-essay competition.
The VFW established the Voice of Democracy program (VOD) in 1947 to provide students grades 9-12 the opportunity to express themselves in regards to democratic ideas and principles.
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 each (state) VFW Department wins a minimum scholarship of $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
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).
Entries begin at the Post level. Once the student creates their essay and completes burning the audio version to an audio CD/flash drive, they can submit their typed version, CD/flash drive and the Voice of Democracy entry form to their local participating VFW Post by the November 1 deadline.
Originality is worth 30 points: Treatment of the theme should show imagination and human interest.
Content is worth 35 points: Clearly express your ideas in an organized manner. Fully develop your theme and use transitions to move smoothly from one idea to the other.
Delivery is worth 35 points: Speak in a clear and credible manner.
Patriot’s Pen 2017-18 Theme “America’s Gift to My Generation”
1st Place – $75 2nd Place – $40 3rd Place – $20
State level prizes range from $50 – $700
National level prizes range from $500 – $5,000
Each year more than 125,000 students in grades 6-8 enter the VFW’s 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.
Students can ask a teacher or youth group leader to supervise their progress in the competition. Then students can contact a local participating VFW Post and establish a contact person who is a member of that Post or its Ladies Auxiliary.
Essays must be no less than 300 words and cannot exceed 400 words. They should be submitted to the Post, along with the completed Patriot’s Pen entry form no later than the November 1 deadline.
Knowledge of the theme is worth 30 points. You must show a thorough knowledge of the theme in your work. Demonstrate you have researched the issue extensively.
Theme development is worth 35 points. Answer all relevant facts about the theme such as the who, what, where, when and why. Relate the theme to your own experiences.
Clarity of ideas is worth 35 points. Write your essay in an easy-to-understand format. Leave your reader with a clear understanding of your explanation of the theme.
Youth Essay * 2017-18 Theme “What does a Veteran mean to Me?“
1st Place – $50 2nd Place – $25 3rd Place – $15
State level prizes range from $50 – $100
*This is a State of Washington program only not National (yet)
This essay contest is for grades 3 thru 5. This is exclusively awarded by the VFW Department of Washington. Judging is done at the Local Post, District and State levels. The state winner will receive a Savings Bond. Youth Essay Entry Form
Some of the VFW’s 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. In fact, VFW’s partnership with the Boy Scouts of America dates back to 1915 when VFW Post 2100 helped to establish Troop 1 in Everett, Washington.
Through the VFW’s Scout of the Year program, members of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who display standout citizenship, patriotism and love of country have the opportunity to be rewarded with college scholarships of up to $5,000.
WHO CAN ENTER:
Scouts who are registered, active members of a Boy or Girl Scout Troop, Venturing Crew, or a Sea Scout Ship who have received the Eagle Scout Award, Girl Scout Gold Award, Venture Summit 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.
Note: All applicants still in high school who reach their 18th birthday during the nomination year remain eligible if otherwise qualified.
HOW TO ENTER:
Scouts should 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 1. Locate your local Post here.
Note: A Scout can enter through ONE VFW Post only.
HOW IT WORKS:
Local VFW Posts submit all candidates with full entry criteria 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.
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 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. Winners receive:
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
HOW TO SUBMIT A NOMINATION:
Step 1: In 350 words or less, describe why you feel your nominee is deserving of the award. Be sure to describe the teacher’s innovative teaching and resource development methods, as well as his or her dedication to education.
Step 2: Complete the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award nomination form.
Step 3: Submit the nomination form along with your explanation to your local VFW Post by February 15.
Note: Nominations can be submitted by fellow teachers, supervisors or other interested individuals. Nominations submitted by relatives or self are not eligible.
HOW THE CONTEST WORKS:
Based on the nominees submitted, VFW’s local chapters – called Posts – will recognize one outstanding teacher in grades K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Posts then submit their winning names to their District-level judging.
From there, the selected winners are forwarded to the Department-level (state-level). Once they are judged on a state level, the winners are passed along to VFW National Headquarters for consideration in the national awards contest.
The VFW strives to thank America’s educators by providing them with helpful resources and encouraging VFW members to visit local classrooms. Let the VFW help educate America’s future leaders and bring history to life!
Veterans play an important role in educating our nation’s youth about the founding principles upon which America was founded. As combat veterans, VFW members can provide students with a unique perspective about the sacrifices America’s service members make to maintain freedom for all of us.
When visiting a classroom, a VFW member will prepare a brief introduction, a main presentation and a Q&A session. Depending on the topic, a member may bring appropriate memorabilia, uniforms, photographs and other relevant material.
American history is something we all share, and there’s no one better to help tell that story than someone who’s had a great part in shaping it.
Contact your local VFW Post to arrange for a veteran to visit your classroom. VFW members and Posts interested in becoming active with their local schools can get tips and suggestions here.