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Crafting a Top-Notch Application: Tips from Former Prize Winners

by | Feb 14, 2019 | Applying to the Barron Prize, Barron Prize Winner, Guest Post

We’re often asked at this time of year what makes a strong Barron Prize application. We’ve turned to the experts – our former winners – for help in answering that question. Here, six of our 2018 winners offer their tips for submitting an application that stands out.
Shelby, 17
Founded Jr Ocean Guardians and created the #NoStrawNovember movement
Essay: You obviously know your project inside and out but for the judges, this may be the first time they have heard about your work. Be an excellent storyteller to help the judges understand your project. Share your experiences both positive and negative and what you have learned along the way. Don’t be afraid to talk about a time when an idea didn’t work, as this is how you learn and grow. 

Overall: Let those who are reviewing your application know the goodness you are doing!  Most importantly, be yourself and your passion for your project will shine through.

Bria, 11
Founded Faces of the Endangered to protect endangered species through the sale of her artwork
Essay: Put the best of yourself in your essay. Create a clear picture of your work so the judges can understand your passion.

References: Choose people who are deeply involved with your project or your service work and can attest to your good character, the amount of time you’ve put into your project, and the positive things that have come through it.

Overall: Spend a lot of time on your application and look it over many times to make sure you didn’t miss anything. It took me months to gather everything and get my references.

Claire, 17
Co-founded Baltimore Beyond Plastic to reduce trash and plastic pollution in her city on the Chesapeake Bay
Essay: Be authentic and reflect on what originally inspired you to start your service project. Oftentimes, starting an essay with the story of how it all began can lead to a very compelling narrative.
Marcus, 16
Invented a low-cost water filter for use in developing countries
Essay: I consider it most important to show what you’re passionate about and what you’ve done in pursuit of that goal. I think it’s also important to show what meaningful progress you’ve made. Remember that those reviewing your application will not have met you or had the chance to speak with you at length, so don’t be afraid to highlight the great work you’ve done!

References: Choose people who understand why you do what you do and can speak to your dedication and character. It might be easy to get caught up in which references’ titles are most impressive or which has the best writing style, but it’s most important to find those who know you and can express your drive.

Genevieve, 12
Created Milkweed for Monarchs to help protect migratory monarch butterflies
Essay: I recommend asking your teacher for writing tips and to help you make sure that everything you want to write is included. Most importantly, make sure what you write comes from the heart. Passion is the key to a successful project — and a successful application!

References: Find good references who know you and your project well.

Robbie, 10
Created Kids Speak for Parks to protect our national parks and monuments
Essay: When you talk about what inspired you to organize this activity, speak from your heart about your passion for your project. Also, relay why your project is important to you and how you have inspired other youth and adults.

References: Choose people who have seen your leadership role in your project first-hand.