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Building a Top-Notch Barron Prize Application:
Tips from our 2021 Young Heroes

by | Mar 9, 2022 | Applying to the Barron Prize, Barron Prize Winner, Guest Post, Project Tips, Volunteerism

Who better to offer advice on compiling a stellar Barron Prize application than the young heroes we’ve honored? We asked some of our most recent winners and honorees to reflect on their 2021 application process and to share any tips for students applying this year. Here are the excellent suggestions they offered!
When working on my application, I wrote out the five words I wanted the judges to think of when they read about my project. This helped prevent the message and mission of my project from seeming convoluted in the midst of a 1,000 word essay.

Be very intentional about who your recommenders are. They should know your project well, but also know why you would make an excellent recipient of the Prize. Be sure to provide them with resources like the Barron Prize website so they can best articulate why you’d be a great fit.

Jordan Phillips

Age 18, Cozies for the Cure

  • Be authentic in sharing your story. Focus on both the actions you took and what you learned from them.
  • Don’t be afraid to be personal.
  • Reflect on the multifaceted aspects of your work.
  • Ask for a recommendation letter from someone who understands why the impact of your work is important to you.
  • Highlight why you dedicated time to your work.
Alexandra Collins

Age 17, Students Against Ethylene Oxide (SAETO)

In your Personal Essay:

  • Capture your service project’s impact both qualitatively and quantitatively.
  • Address if and how the service project will continue for a lasting impact, if possible, and a growing impact in the future.
  • Be sure your service story flows from inspiration to actions taken.
  • Describe project partners if any and what they added to your service endeavor.
Duncan Jurman

Age 18, Bring Butterflies Back

When you are writing your personal essay, begin with how you discovered the problem you aim to solve. Talking about how the problem personally affected your life or those close to you demonstrates the importance of your initiative. When moving into details about your initiative, having a nice mix of anecdotes and statistics is best. Finally, paint a picture of your initiative in the future. Discuss how the Barron Prize might take your project to the next level. Good luck to all!
Adarsh Ambati

Age 17, The Green Environment Initiatives

  • For your personal essay, talk to friends and family. I am modest and they helped me see all that I’ve accomplished that maybe I did not think of!
  • For the letters of recommendation, I picked people who know me but are also across different fields and know me in different capacities. That way the letters give a good complete picture!
  • HAVE FUN! The application is tough but it is about celebrating all the good you do for the world. No matter what happens, you are doing important things for our planet, people, and animals!
Miles Fetherston-Resch

Age 9, Kids Saving Oceans

My biggest piece of advice for Barron Prize applicants is to inject your essay with as much of your personality as possible. It’s easy for the judges to look at your application and see all the amazing work you’ve done, but since they haven’t actually met you, it’s much harder to convey the traits that make you a good activist (your passion, your drive and motivation, your commitment, etc). Since the Barron Prize honors applicants who demonstrate heroic qualities, this is key. Make sure your essay helps the judges really get to know you. Tell a story — be descriptive and be vulnerable — so by the end of the essay, the judges feel like they’ve been along with you for the creation of your project and truly understand your passion and your purpose.
Olivia Seltzer

Age 18, The Cramm

Personal Essay

  • Be proud and confident in your work. Don’t compare your work to past winners and fall into self-doubt.
  • Be transparent about your project. If you experienced a challenge, share it and how you overcame it.
  • Take the judges on a journey. Share how your project came to be, how it grew, and where you hope it goes. The heroic qualities should not just be reflected by the results but also shown in the process of the project.
  • Don’t overthink or attempt to perfect every sentence. Instead, speak from the heart in your unique style.
  • Don’t undervalue your project or impact.

Recommendation Letters

  • Consider recommenders who have seen the project grow from the beginning and can attest to your leadership in it.
  • Request letters from people who have witnessed different parts of the project. For example, someone you partnered with or someone who was impacted by your work.
  • Provide your references with a synopsis of your work and total impact to ensure uniformity among their statistics.
  • Select a reference that shares an enthusiasm for your work and understands the scope of your project.

Supplemental Materials

  • Make sure the items relate to something covered in your essay or that a judge can clearly see the connection to your overall story.
  • Select photos that give a holistic view of your project. In other words, the images should reflect every aspect of your project.
  • Consider photos that capture the spirit of work rather than focusing on the most professional or staged photo.
  • Levi Grimm

    Age 19, JEE Foods