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Scholastic Art & Writing Awards - Alliance for Young Artists & Writers


New York Life Award

About This Scholarship

Sponsored by the New York Life Foundation, the National New York Life Award offers $1,000 scholarships to six students whose works explore personal grief and loss. State scholarships of $500 are available to two students from each of the following states: Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and New Mexico.

Someone I care about passed away, and it’s sometimes hard for me to talk about it. What is grief, and why should I share my story about my experiences with loss?

Grief is the feeling and reaction associated with loss. You can experience it after a loved one dies or after other major changes in your life. The death of a loved one and the grief that follows is a universal yet very unique, personal experience even in normal times. Now, grief has become a staple in our lives. If ever there was a time for you to tell your story about it, this is it.

The year 2020 was not what we thought it would be. In six short months, the world turned upside down and life became dramatically different. Suddenly, you couldn’t be with your friends. School was home and home was school. You may have missed sports, movies, prom, or a class play. The list goes on. The losses piled up everywhere in your life.

For some of you, loss has a more powerful grip. Perhaps someone you care about became sick with Covid-19, was hospitalized, and did not survive this terrifying and uncertain disease. Many have died as a result of this pandemic. For every person who has died from it, at least 9 people are grieving their death. Additionally, Black, Hispanic, and Native communities are far more impacted by this disease.

In the unkindest twist of circumstances, keeping people safe from Covid-19 meant keeping them away from those they love. If we want to be with a dying family member or friend, we can’t. Even if you have not personally lost an important person in your life, you likely know someone who did. The reminders are all around us.

Sharing your story through art or writing can heal you and your community. You can be a chronicler of this extraordinary time. Your unique experiences and the experiences of your community matter when we talk about the losses of 2020 and the grief that washes over the globe.

How do I apply?

Enter your work to any category in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. At the end of your application, opt in to the New York Life Award. You will be prompted to include a personal statement on your work.

What should I write about in my personal statement?

Your personal statement should describe your experience with grief, and how your work relates to that experience. The statement should be 50 words or more. Below are prompts that may help in crafting your personal statement:

  • Tell us about the person you lost and how your memories of them inspired you to create this work.
  • Tell us about the loss you experienced. How did it impact your life and self-identity, and why did you decide to create this work about it?
  • How does your experience with grief impact your relationship with your community?
  • What was creating this work like for you emotionally? Did the act of creating the work change how you feel or think about the loss or how you will cope with the loss moving forward?
  • How have Covid-19 and the resulting social isolation affected your grief?

Getting Started on Your Submission

These resources can help you explore this theme through art and writing. 

  • Our publication Healing Through Creativity includes inspiring works from young artists and writers addressing grief and bereavement. Its discussion questions and writing prompts can help you explore your own experience with grief and talk about it with others.
  • Watch Grief and Growth during Covid-19, our self-guided workshop for teens that explores how grief and loss can be expressed through creativity. During the workshop, Art Educator Rachel Alban will share works by artists for inspiration, then guide you through creative writing and art exercises that you can do at home.
  • Explore poetry with On Isolation: A Series of Poetry Prompts and Exercises on Growth, Healing, and Crisis. It includes thoughtful lessons and prompts from ten alumni from our National Student Poets Program.

Share This Scholarship

Download a flyer to share with students and educators.

About Our Partner

The New York Life Foundation supports programs that benefit young people, particularly in the areas of educational enhancement and childhood bereavement, and runs the Volunteers for Good program for New York Life employees, agents, and retirees.