Alliance for Young Artists & Writers

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The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1994, identifies teenagers with exceptional creative talent and brings their remarkable work to a national audience through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The Alliance partners with more than 100 Local Programs across the country to provide creative teens with opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication, and scholarships.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards[edit]

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are the longest running, most prestigious competition and largest source of scholarships for creative teenagers in the United States. The Awards program was created in 1923 by Maurice R. "Robbie" Robinson, founder of Scholastic Corporation, and has been administered by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers since 1994. It has an impressive legacy and a noteworthy roster of past winners including Andy Warhol, Frances Farmer, Sylvia Plath, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, and Joyce Carol Oates among many others.

Tom Otterness, acclaimed American sculptor, public artist, and Awards alum is quoted saying, "Winning a Scholastic Art & Writing Award brought me from high school in Wichita, Kansas, to art school in New York City. It changed the course of my life." [1]

Established to ensure that literary and artistic talent were recognized in schools and communities across the country, the program began as a small writing contest; today, it offers recognition in 29 diverse categories including architecture, sculpture, painting, photography, poetry, dramatic script, fashion, animation, and video games. The Awards are open to all students in grades 7 through 12 from public, private, and home schools throughout the U.S. (and its territories), as well as American-run schools abroad and community programs serving eligible student populations.

Selection Process

The program is structured to identify and recognize students through regional award designations (Gold Key, Silver Key, Honorable Mention, and American Visions and Voices Nominees) and national award designations (Gold Medal, Silver Medal, American Visions and Voices Medal, and Sponsored Awards). Regional awards are administered by a nationwide Local Program network that includes public and private school systems, nonprofit organizations, museums, foundations, arts agencies, teacher councils, and institutions of higher education that share a commitment to encouraging and building a skill-set for the creative economy.

The Awards opens for submission in September of each year. Teens participate by submitting creative works to the Local Program in their region. Works receiving Gold Keys become eligible to receive National Medals. The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers in New York City administers the national adjudication process where works are then judged by panels of art and writing professionals.


The selection panels for both regional and national levels of the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are composed of artists, writers, curators, critics, educators, and professionals from the nation’s leading creative industries, some of whom are alums of the Scholastic Awards. Notable past jurors include Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, David Sedaris, Judy Blume, Bill Murray, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Mary Ellen Mark, William Saroyan, Frank McCourt, Kiki Smith, George Plimpton, Esmeralda Santiago, Tatiana von Furstenberg, Madeleine L’Engle, Faith Ringgold and Billy Collins as well as alums Edward Sorel, Donald Lipski, Ned Vizzini, and Michael Bierut. Panelists look for works that best exemplify originality, technical skill, and the emergence of a personal voice or vision.


Students receiving awards at the regional level are given Gold Keys and/or Silver Keys and Certificates at ceremonies presented by their Local Program. At the national level, outstanding creative teens are recognized during National Events in New York City in June. During National Events, students meet their creative peers, view and read the work of other exceptional teens from across the nation, and engage in creative development workshops. All students receiving National Medals are invited to the National Ceremony at Carnegie Hall. Educators are also invited to attend the Ceremony. The GEDENK sponsored "GEDENK Award for Tolerance" winners met with GEDENK Founders - Jane Oster and Grammy Award-winning violinist and UN Goodwill Ambassador to the UN Associations of Brazil - Miri Ben-Ari.[2] [3]


Local Programs host their own exhibitions featuring works from their regions Gold Key, Silver Key, and/or Honorable Mention recipients. These works are put on display in art galleries, schools, and other locations for regional exhibitions.

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers exhibits works throughout the year through its Art.Write.Now. exhibition program. Works receiving Gold Medals are eligible for the exhibition. In addition to the National Exhibition and the Tour, works are also on display for one year at the U.S. Department of Education and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Art.Write.Now. National Exhibition[edit]

Hosted at renowned New York City venues, this annual exhibition showcases a selection of Gold Medal works every June during National Events. The exhibition highlights the incredible breadth of talented teen artists and writers to New York City residents and visitors, and promotes the importance of supporting arts education.


In October 2010, the Alliance launched the Art.Write.Now.Tour to expose audiences nationwide to the most stunning examples of work from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. These incredible emerging artists, writers and filmmakers were selected as the "best in the country" by top professionals in the visual and literary arts. Since its inception, the tour has visited Fort Wayne, IN; Dallas, TX; Seattle, WA; Pasadena, CA; Chicago, IL; Portland, OR; Philadelphia, PA; and New Orleans, LA.


Art and writing from the current Gold Medalists is also displayed at the National Exhibition, National Medalist art and writing works are compiled into the National Catalog, and the annual The Best Teen Writing is published to showcase the best writing submitted to the Scholastic Awards. meet their creative peers, view and read the work of other exceptional teens from across the nation, and engage in creative development workshops. All national winners are invited to receive their medals at an Awards Ceremony at Carnegie Hall and attend the Art.Write.Now. National Exhibition opening featuring top works from that year.


Each year, the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers gives out more than a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships to creative teens. The highest award is the Gold Medal Portfolio, which is given to sixteen graduating seniors (8 art portfolios, 8 writing portfolios) and comes with a $10,000 scholarship. Scholarships of $1,000 are given to graduating seniors receiving a Silver Medal Portfolio award. In addition, seniors receiving National Medals are eligible for scholarships from a network of 50-plus art institutes, universities, colleges which annually earmark more than $10 million in financial aid and scholarships for Scholastic Awards recipients. GEDENK a 501(c)3 not-for-profit provides a scholarship of $1,000 to GEDENK Award for Tolerance winners.[4][5] [6]

The Scholastic Art Awards are also recognized by the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (a consortium of leading art and design colleges in the U.S.) as an effective way for artistic students to develop successful portfolios for college admission.

Art Categories[edit]

  • Architecture
  • Ceramics & Glass
  • Comic Art
  • Design
  • Digital Art
  • Drawing & Illustration
  • Fashion
  • Film & Animation
  • Jewelry
  • Mixed Media
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Printmaking
  • Sculpture
  • Video Game Design
  • Art Portfolio (for graduating seniors only)

Writing Categories[edit]

  • Dramatic Script
  • Flash Fiction
  • Humor
  • Journalism
  • Novel Writing
  • Personal Essay & Memoir
  • Critical Essay
  • Poetry
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy
  • Short Story
  • Writing Portfolio (for graduating seniors only)


  • GEDENK Award for Tolerance
  • Best in Grade (B.I.G.) Award
  • Creativity & Citizenship Award
  • Duck Tape Brand Award
  • The "Future New" Award


Program Supporters[edit]

The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers is supported by Scholastic Inc, GEDENK,the Maurice R. Robinson Fund, Command Web Offset, The New York Times, the AMD Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Dick Blick Art Materials, Ovation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, the New York Life Foundation, 3D Systems, Bloomberg,, the Bernstein Family Foundation, ShurTech Duck Tape, the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Trust, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and contributions from its Board and many other individuals and companies who support our mission.[9]

Notable alumni[edit]



External links[edit]