Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes


The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, a program of the nonprofit organization Young Heroes Project, celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from diverse backgrounds all across North America. Established in 2001 by author T. A. Barron, the Barron Prize annually honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive impact on people, their communities, and the environment.

Since its inception, the Barron Prize has awarded more than half a million dollars to hundreds of young leaders and has won the support of the National Geographic Education Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA, and National Youth Leadership Council, among other organizations.

“We need heroes today more than ever.” – T. A. Barron


Years since Inception

Number of Young People Honored

Money Raised By Winners
plus D. C. & Canada


T. A. Barron

T. A. Barron


T. A. Barron grew up in Colorado ranch country and traveled widely as a Rhodes Scholar. He is the winner of the de Grummond Medallion for “lifetime contribution to the field of children’s and young adult literature.” His highly acclaimed, internationally bestselling books include The Lost Years of Merlin (now being developed into a film), The Great Tree of Avalon (a New York Times bestseller), The Ancient One, and The Hero’s Trail, which profiles heroic young people from diverse backgrounds and inspires young people to think of how they can make a positive difference in the world. He loves to write and hike in Colorado. www.TABarron.com
Barbara Ann Richman

Barbara Ann Richman

Executive Director

Barbara Ann Richman helped launch the Barron Prize in 2001 and has served as its Executive Director ever since. She received degrees from the University of Virginia and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and taught elementary school in the Boston area for a number of years. When the Rocky Mountains beckoned, she moved to Colorado to direct educational programming at a regional nature center and to teach at Fort Lewis College. She has also developed curriculum for the U.S. Forest Service and numerous environmental organizations. She continues to live in Colorado where she loves to spend time in the mountains with her family.
Gloria Barron

Gloria Barron

T. A. Barron writes about his inspiration for the Barron Prize

Gloria Barron, the woman I was lucky enough to know as my mother, never sought fame. She simply lived the life of a teacher who cared deeply about her children and her community. She was always learning: The day before she died, at age ninety-two, she was delighted to discover a new word origin! (The word, by the way, was “spittoon”.) This great old gal never lost her childlike sense of wonder.

My mother believed in the importance of good communication. She encouraged us to write in journals, stories, and letters. Her rule was that a good letter should contain “something funny, something beautiful, and something true.” Beyond that, she continually urged her children to make a positive difference to the world, in whatever ways we chose. She didn’t sermonize; she just lived her own life that way—and hoped that we would, as well.

Her love of children and nature combined to create a remarkable project. For over twenty years, she worked hard to create a unique nature museum at the Colorado School for the Blind—a museum where everything can be touched. Blind kids can experience the grandeur of an eagle by touching its wide wings, just as they can feel a hummingbird’s delicate nest or a polar bear’s rich, soft fur. She never sought any credit for this accomplishment, and the only reward she wanted was the satisfaction of knowing that these kids could now experience some of the wonder and beauty of the natural world. That’s the sort of quiet heroism that countless teachers, parents, and kids show every day. And those people truly hold our world together.

That’s why, when the time came to choose a name for my prize celebrating young heroes, I knew exactly who to name it for—a quiet hero who made a real difference in my life. Someone who never stopped believing in the power of every person to make the world a better place. Someone I loved and admired very much.


Barron Prize winners are chosen by a volunteer committee of professionals with extensive experience in the fields of education, philanthropy, and youth service, and who are passionate about the heroic potential of all young people. Our judges are tasked with selecting winners who best demonstrate heroic character qualities like courage, compassion, and perseverance, and who are making a significant, positive impact on the world.

Among our judges are remarkable young people, including former winners of the Barron Prize. Two of them, Shawn Henry and Ashley Shuyler Carter, recently spoke to us about the value of receiving the prize and the opportunity to serve as a member of the selection committee.

My favorite part about being a Barron Prize judge is reading the applications, especially their personal essays which provide great insight into their passion and motivation. I look for applicants who lead through example and truly listen to their conscience to do the right thing. In doing so, they plant the seeds of change, compassion, goodwill, service and generosity.

My experience as a judge has reinforced my admiration for the Barron Prize. It is a very rewarding process to serve among an amazing group of judges who are passionate about the Barron Prize and truly believe in the potential of every young person to be an agent of change.
Shawn Henry
Selection Committee Member and 2004 Winner
Program Director, VOYAGES Preparatory High School – South Queens

I first became a judge in 2009. It is a very special way to give back to something that has played such an important role in my own life and a perfect way to “pay forward” the gift I have received through the Barron Prize.

There is an incredible amount of research that goes into the judging process, as well as genuine empathy and debate during the selection discussions. I love getting to learn about these truly special young people across the country every year. I am inspired by their creativity, heart, curiosity, and ambition, and their earnest desire to use that creativity to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges.
Ashley Shuyler Carter
Selection Committee Member and 2001 Winner
Strategy Consultant, CareerWise Colorado


The emblem of the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes is the glacier lily, a resilient flower that grows high in the Rocky Mountains. After an avalanche or severe storm, the glacier lily is the first plant to bring the land back to life. Though small and delicate, this flower stands tall, a symbol of courage, determination, and hope.