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Creative writing bursary

Firefly Bursary Program

Top down view of a little wooden heart on a carved stone coaster.

Welcome to our new bursary program.

Here’s something we never stop thinking about: How can we nurture genuine, open-hearted community within the container of a business?

It’s complicated. We are passionate about creating spaces of deep engagement and nourishment for all creative voices. And, we need to pay ourselves, the people who support us and the river of bills that arrives at our door.

We’ve made this program to meet some of that complexity.

Our central goal is to create a system of financial aid for our programs that’s ethical, intentional, and community-led — one that takes structural inequity into account, but doesn’t require anyone to fit themselves into a box.

That last part is important. We live in a world of growing income disparities, many of which have deep structural roots. And while that’s true, privilege and oppression are complex, overlapping and intersectional. We want a system that holds that complexity, centers our applicant’s full humanity, and doesn’t reduce anyone to a category.

So, our new bursary application process invites applicants to share however much or little they want to about their story, in their own words. Decisions are made by a diverse group of community members, who have read the applications without names attached. Everyone’s information is kept confidential.

Here’s how our bursaries work:

Our committee of community members (see below!) meets at several points throughout the year to give out six $400 bursaries that can be used for any of our programming, and you’ll have 12 months from the date you receive your bursary to use it.

Anyone is welcome to apply for a bursary. We simply ask on your intake form to tell us — in your own words — about your financial situation, any structural barriers you want to identify, how you imagine you’ll use the funds at Firefly, and a little about what writing means to you.

We’ll have rotating application windows throughout the year. The remaining window in 2022 is October 7–21. There is no limit to the number of applicants, and we’ll be awarding at least six bursaries for each round of applicants, more if our fundraising allows it.

Privacy is paramount! We’ll remove names from applications before the committee reviews them.

We will have a committee of Firefly community members who will choose who to award bursaries to. See below for this year’s crew! Anyone can apply to be on the committee, it will rotate annually. Each committee member will be thanked for their time with a bursary.

Questions? The answer is probably right here.

We welcome you to be part of this in three ways:

1. Apply for a bursary. We would love to hear from you.

NEXT BURSARY APPLICATION WINDOW:
October 7 — 21, 2022

2. Support our bursary fund. We are gratefully receiving donations.

3. Apply to join the next bursary committee. We choose 3 people to give out the next of three bursaries. They tend to be people who know our work and our community well, and who have a desire to spread more equity at Firefly and beyond. We thank them each with a $500 bursary.

The Best Writing Scholarships of 2022

PICPA High School Senior Scholarships are awarded to students attending a Pennsylvania high school interested in majoring in accounting. Awards are given on a competitive basis to candidates who best satisfy the requirements of high intellectual capacity, leadership potential, and an intent to pursue a career in accounting, as demonstrated by their personal essays.

Organization: Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Deadline: April 16, 2023.

Additional awards: Multiple awards of varying amounts will be given.

Categories: Personal Essay.

The Sub Pop Loser Scholarship

Top award: $7,000 to 1 recipient

Sub Pop Records is extremely proud to offer a grand total of $15,000 in college scholarship money to three eligible high school seniors. To apply you must submit a one-page essay using any combination of our questions as a guide (or write something completely your own, be inspired and creative!). Applicants must be residents of Washington or Oregon in pursuit of higher education.

Organization: Sub Pop Records.

Deadline: March 19, 2023.

Additional awards: Second place scholarship of $5,000, third place scholarship of $3,000.

Categories: Personal Essay.

Islamic Scholarship Fund Program

Top award: $10,000 to 10 recipients

Students who are Muslim or active members of the Muslim community may apply for the Islamic Scholarship Fund. The ISF awards multiple scholarships each year ranging from $3,000-$10,000, though the amounts and number of recipients will vary. Students must submit applications including essay questions, work samples, and letters of recommendation, and must also be majoring in an ISF-supported field related to media or politics.

Organization: Islamic Scholarship Fund.

Deadline: March 21, 2023.

Additional awards: Multiple awards of varying amounts will be given.

Categories: Personal Essay.

BBB Torch Talk Scholarship

Top award: $2,000 to 6 recipients

BBB Foundation is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to educating consumers on a variety of marketplace issues; this scholarship is in pursuit of that goal. Applicants must attend high school in Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington or Western Wyoming, and will submit a 500-word essay for BBB’s online magazine Torch Talk on one of the given topics.

Organization: Better Business Bureau.

Deadline: March 16, 2023.

Categories: Personal Essay.

Flag House Scholarship Award

Top award: $1,812 to 1 recipient

Do you know of an unsung history-maker in your community? Is there an organization in your community working to keep the legacy of a historically significant, but often overlooked, individual alive and relevant? Identify a person living or from the past whose professional work, activism, or personal story has made a significant impact on you or your community. Describe why their story is unique and explain how they have changed history. Response should be limited to 350 words.

Organization: The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House.

Deadline: March 26, 2023.

Categories: Research and Critical Essay.

Unpublished Writer’s Award

Top award: $1,000 to 1 recipient

The winner of this award receives $1,000, an invitation to accept the award at our annual awards ceremony, promotion on our website, and a feature of their work in our Magajournal and quarterly newsletter. Applicant must email an original, unpublished fiction work (short story or novel excerpt) not to exceed 2,000 typed words on double-spaced pages

Organization: Go On Girl! Book Club.

Deadline: March 31, 2023.

Additional awards: Invitation to awards ceremony, promotion through website and publications.

Categories: Short Fiction and Novel Writing.

Christine B. Dexter Scholarship

Top award: $2,000 to 1 recipient

The Christine B. Dexter Scholarship was established in honor of Christine B. Dexter after her passing from stomach cancer in 2008. This scholarship awards undergrad students a $2,000 scholarship towards their fall tuition. All recipients demonstrate a history of community service and resilience through their cancer journey.

Organization: Christine B. Foundation.

Deadline: March 31, 2023.

Categories: Personal Essay.

Incight Scholarship

Top award: $2,500 to 50 recipients

The INCIGHT scholarship is open to students in Washington, Oregon, and California who have a documented disability. Applicants must complete two detailed essay responses (video essays also welcome) in order to be eligible. The number of awards and total amount awarded will be determined during the selection process, and winners will be notified in June.

Organization: INCIGHT.

Deadline: April 01, 2023.

Additional awards: Multiple awards of varying amounts will be given.

Categories: Personal Essay.

Marguerite Young Endowment Fund

Top award: $1,500 to 10 recipients

The Marguerite Young Endowment Fund was established at The Pittsburgh Foundation to provide scholarships for students who plan to study theology. Candidates must be attending a Protestant seminary as a master of Divinity candidate, preparing for full-time ministry and/or be a seminary intern at a Protestant Church. Application must includes proof of this, as well as a personal essay.

Organization: The Pittsburgh Foundation.

Deadline: March 31, 2023.

Additional awards: Multiple awards of varying amounts will be given.

Categories: Personal Essay.

The AAF-Greater Evansville Scholarship

Top award: $1,500 to 3 recipients

The AAF-Greater Evansville awards scholarships to deserving high school and/or college students yearly in April. To be eligible, students must plan to pursue a career in advertising, marketing, public relations or graphic design. Application varies yearly but includes various education details and personal statements.

Organization: American Advertising Federation of Greater Evansville.

Deadline: March 31, 2023.

Categories: Journalism.

Aspiring Literary Scholar Award

Top award: $1,000 to 1 recipient

The winner of this award receives $1,000, an invitation to accept the award at our annual awards ceremony, promotion on our website, and a feature of their work in our Magajournal and quarterly newsletter. Candidate must submit an essay not to exceed 800 words on the topic “The Power of The Written Word.”

Organization: Go On Girl! Book Club.

Deadline: March 31, 2023.

Additional awards: Invitation to awards ceremony, promotion through website and publications.

Categories: Critical Essay.

Dr. Jerry Pournelle Scholarship

Top award: $2,500 to 1 recipient

The Dr. Jerry Pournelle Scholarship may be awarded to a candidate of any gender majoring in engineering, math, biological or physical sciences, or “science fiction as literature” as an eligible field of study. Applicants must submit a 500-1,000 word essay on one of several scientific topics.

Organization: The Heinlein Society.

Deadline: April 01, 2023.

Categories: Research, Personal Essay, and Critical Essay.

Dr. Yoji Kondo Scholarship

Top award: $2,500 to 1 recipient

The Dr. Yoji Kondo Scholarship may be awarded to a candidate of any gender majoring in engineering, math, biological or physical sciences, or “science fiction as literature” as an eligible field of study. Applicants must submit a 500-1,000 word essay on one of several scientific topics.

Organization: The Heinlein Society.

Deadline: April 01, 2023.

Categories: Research, Personal Essay, and Critical Essay.

Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarship

Top award: $1,000 to 15 recipients

Project Sleep’s Jack & Julie Narcolepsy Scholarship is a national scholarship program to support students with narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia. Students must complete an application form that includes a response to the esssay question: “If you could go back in time and speak to yourself on the day you were diagnosed, what would you say? Write a letter to yourself on that day.”

Organization: Project Sleep.

Deadline: April 01, 2023.

Categories: Personal Essay.

Bob Eddy Scholarship Program

Top award: $2,500 to 1 recipient

To apply for this scholarship, students must be enrolled at an accredited university in Connecticut or be a Connecticut resident enrolled in university in any state or country. Applications should include a 500-word essay about a current event that captured your interest, how you stayed informed, etc.

Organization: The Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists Foundation.

Deadline: April 01, 2023.

Additional awards: 1 second place prize of $1,500, 2 third place prizes of $1,000 each.

Categories: Journalism.

Filter your search

Apply to writing scholarships for every kind of student. Whether you’re looking to submit a short piece or your entire portfolio, you can explore opportunities on this page to find exactly the right scholarship for you — and potentially win thousands of dollars to fund your education.

(Do you host a writing scholarship? Submit it here)

What are writing scholarships?

Writing scholarships are financial awards given to students based primarily on written work, though other factors are usually taken into consideration as well. Most writing scholarships involve a prompt or series of prompts to which applicants must respond. Some writing scholarships — especially those that award large amounts of money — require applicants to submit past writing samples, or even a full portfolio.

The good news is that, with so many writing scholarships to choose from, you don’t have to apply for any that are “out of your league.” Indeed, though most students have heard of writing scholarships, you may not realize just how many different varieties there are! Here are five of the most common types of writing scholarships, all of which you can find in this directory.

1. Personal essay scholarships

Personal essay scholarships involve writing on a topic related to your own experience. You’ll often see personal essay prompts like, “How have your experiences influenced your choice of major?” and “What are your career aspirations and how do you plan to achieve them?” Other prompts may ask you to write about a role model, a life-changing event, an aspect of your identity, etc. Suggested length is usually about 500-1,000 words, but varies depending on the level of detail requested and how many essay questions are provided.

Just about every scholarship these days has a personal essay component of some kind. This is because personal essay responses both demonstrate writing skills and give the judges a clear sense of each applicant’s goals. No one wants to throw away money on an aimless student — so if you’re applying for a personal essay scholarship, make sure to convey both your writing abilities and your ambitions in your work!

2. Critical essay scholarships

Critical essay scholarships are more in line with what students might consider “academic” essays. The prompts typically ask applicants to analyze works of literature. However, unlike open-ended English class essays, most critical essay scholarships provide a very specific prompt (e.g. “Examine The Great Gatsby in the context of its World War II-era revival”).

Critical essay scholarships can also involve non-literary subject matter. Some may ask applicants to evaluate a historical event or figure; others may ask them to defend their stance on a political or legal issue. Though the line between critical and personal essays can sometimes blur, for the purposes of this directory, we define critical essays as those that use evidence from an external source to prove a point.

3. Short fiction scholarships

Short fiction scholarships include scholarships for short stories, one-act plays, poetry, and any other form of fiction that isn’t a novel or full-length script. Short fiction scholarships tend to be easier to find than long-form fiction scholarships, since most judging panels don’t have time to read more than a few thousand words per entry. Therefore, if you write fiction and you’re hoping to nab yourself a scholarship, this category is the way to go! (That said, if you’re a hardline novelist, some places will accept a sample chapter or two as short fiction entries.)

4. Journalism scholarships

Journalism scholarships are for students interested in pursuing a career in news, magazine, and/or online journalism. These scholarship applications almost always ask for writing samples to show the candidate’s interest. Depending on the organization, they may prefer topical news reports, informative articles, thinkpieces, or a mix. Some journalism scholarships provide a prompt and ask applicants to write a new article, but the focus is usually on samples. Speaking of which…

5. Portfolio scholarships

Portfolio scholarships are the most rigorous kind of writing scholarship, requiring a substantial body of work from each applicant — usually 5-10 pieces of writing, if not more. The upside is that awards for portfolio scholarships tend to be pretty sizable, and may even cover your entire tuition!

If you decide to apply to a portfolio scholarship, make sure you have several strong pieces of work in your oeuvre, and consider writing a few new pieces as well. What you shouldn’t do is rush through a dozen new pieces to throw together as a portfolio. If you don’t have samples at the ready from previous assignments or projects, you’ll be better off applying to a less intensive writing scholarship.

Why apply to writing scholarships?

Applying to writing scholarships is a huge undertaking, especially if you’re pursuing multiple scholarships at once. It can sometimes feel like the effort isn’t worth it, or that you have little chance of actually winning any awards. But in truth, submitting to writing scholarships is one of the best investments you can make in your education, your creative writing skills, and your professional life.

Scholarships for larger amounts do attract more applicants, but that doesn’t mean they’re impossible to land — only that you have to work a little harder to stand out. And you can definitely sway the odds in your favor by applying to lots of small scholarships ($500 or less) for which you’ll have fewer competitors. Remember that every little bit helps! For example, if you plan on taking out student loans, even a $500 scholarship could save you much more in interest down the line.

Another compelling reason to apply to writing scholarships is that oftentimes, you’ve already done the work, or the work required is minimal. For scholarships that require writing samples, you’ll simply submit what you’ve already written in the past — and even for scholarships with specific prompts, you rarely have to write more than a couple of pages. If you were seriously committed, you could apply to a scholarship every day, spending a single concentrated evening on each application.

Jumping off that thought, as English majors love to say: the more writing scholarships you apply for, the better a writer you’ll become. Writing tons of scholarship essays will make you a much more creative and efficient writer. Not only will this help with your personal writing projects, but it will also be invaluable to your education and even your career! Writing is a crucial skill for every major — you’ll always have to write papers and emails to professors, after all — and even if you don’t plan to pursue a writing-based job, you’ll still need writing skills to polish your résumé.

Finally, remember that there’s a writing scholarship out there for everyone, no matter what your interests or intended field. This directory includes plenty of creative writing scholarships, yes; but there are also personal essay scholarships for future doctors, lawyers, salespeople, and so much more. You have nothing to lose by giving it a shot, so why not start searching for your dream writing scholarship today? (And if you’re unsure about your writing skills, you might benefit from some of the resources below.)

Resources to strengthen your writing skills

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Creative writing bursary

The Authors’ Foundation, together with the K. Blundell Trust, are administered by the Society of Authors and offer grants to writers with works in progress, this year totalling in excess of £360,000. Each grant can be up to £6,000 (occasionally more). Almost always, the authors receiving these grants will have contracts from UK publishers. The grants are made twice a year.

The Royal Literary Fund’s Fellowship Scheme gives professional authors – who must have published at least two books – one or two years’ paid employment in higher education institutions while they work on their books. The principal aim of the Fellows’ work is to foster good writing practice across disciplines and media.

Jerwood Arts has several funding streams. The Jerwood New Work Fund enables artists, artistic groups and artist led organisations to undertake the research, development and creation of new work to bring about a step change in their practice and profile. The Jerwood Bursaries offer funding opportunities to network, find new partners for collaboration, receive mentoring or take part in training, conferences, workshops and residencies.

The British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grants are available to support primary research in the humanities and social sciences. These awards, up to £10,000 in value and tenable for up to 24 months, are provided to cover the cost of the expenses arising from a defined research project.

National Association of Writers in Education (nawe) aims to further knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of creative writing and to support good practice in its teaching and learning at all levels. nawe runs an Annual Conference and offers a range of online resources.

The Literary Consultancy (TLC) offers manuscript assessment and editorial advice for writers at all stages in their careers. It has an Arts Council England-funded Free Reads Scheme for writers on low incomes.

The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain (WGGB) is a trade union representing professional writers in television, film, theatre, radio, books, comedy, poetry, animation and video games. Its members include emerging and aspiring writers.

For those based in England, Arts Council England’s funding programmes include Developing your Creative Practice, which allows independent creative practitioners to undertake ambitious research and development and make a step change in their practice, and National Lottery Project Grants which support thousands of individual artists, and community and cultural organisations.

Creative Scotland has a variety of funding opportunities including its Open Project Funding for artists, groups and creative organisations based in Scotland who need support to pursue their artistic or creative projects.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland offers a range of funding support schemes to individuals in Northern Ireland including Travel Awards. Visit artscouncil-ni.org/funding

Literature Wales offers support to both new and established writers resident in Wales through its Writers’ Bursaries scheme. Bursaries are awarded annually to writers at all stages of their careers. The refocused 2019 Writers’ Bursaries Awards, which are funded by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of Wales, enable writers to concentrate on developing a specific work in progress across a twelve-month period. Awards are fixed at £3,000.

New Writing North offers Northern Writers’ Awards, which support works in progress by new and emerging writers across the north of England. It also supports new work by established writers, particularly those whose work is changing direction. Visit newwritingnorth.com

The BBC Writersroom runs the Script Room, the BBC’s system for receiving unsolicited original scripts. It has distinct submission windows which are announced on its website. Opportunities for shortlisted writers include an invitation to be part of Drama Room and Comedy Room development groups.

Arvon offers residential courses and retreats in its centres in Devon, Shropshire and West Yorkshire. Established authors work closely with writers working, or embarking, on books. Grants are available to help with course fees. Visit arvon.org

Hawthornden Castle in Midlothian is an international retreat where up to five writers (Fellows) at a time can stay and work, with free board and lodging, for a month. For more information contact the Administrator on 0131 440 2180.

The Peggy Ramsay Foundation gives grants to theatre writers in order to afford them the time and the space to write. You can be a writer who has only had one play professionally produced, a writer who has had dozens of successes or a writer who is somewhere in between.

The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust runs the Churchill Fellowships, a unique programme of overseas research grants. These support uk citizens from all parts of society to travel the world in search of innovative solutions for today’s most pressing problems. Writers are encouraged to apply.

The Biographers’ Club administers an annual award of £2,000, the Tony Lothian Prize, for the best proposal for an uncommissioned first biography. Visit biographers.club/the-tony-lothian-prize