By Darryl Alder
Feb 01, 2016

Do You Want Scholarships for Scouting?

Boy_Scout_SaluteIn just five days the first application is due, so ready quickly and get to work!

This Sunday, Scout Sunday, February 7, 2016 the Bill of Rights Institute will stop taking applications for $20,000 in scholarships in its “We the Students Essay Contest.”  The annual essay contest specifically awards a Boy Scout a $2,500 scholarship, along with $500 for his or her Scout or Venturing unit’s  program. However there are many other categories for entry, making it possible for many other students to enter too.

Regarding the contest, today I spoke with Jeffrey Horne, an Eagle Scout himself and Utah Native. He said: “Utah has been historically under-represented in submissions for the scholarship, but I see the value in this opportunity as it aligns with both the values of an Eagle Scout and the Church.” Horne is the Director of Student Programs. He further explained that writers should “focus on the ideas of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and their relevance today.”

The Bill of Rights Institute; located in Arlington, Virginia; promotes the values of civic virtue, agency, the importance of civic participation to a free and democratic society, and the idea of God-given liberties as outlined in the Bill of Rights. “Our essay contest is created to help Scouts throughout the nation work through their understanding of these principles,” explains Horne.

Interested Scouts should apply quickly. Submissions are due by February 7th, 2016.

More information can be found this website or by reading this:

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible to participate?
Students in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Armed Forces schools abroad, and students in United States territories are eligible to participate in the contest.

In addition to going to school in a contest state, you must be in grades 8-12 and between the ages of 14-19.  You must also meet thier eligibility requirements.  If you meet these criteria, you can submit an entry!  (Home school students too!)

How many times can I enter?
An individual may only submit one entry to each contest.

Do I have to answer all questions?
Yes.  To be eligible to win you must fully answer all questions, including any sub-parts.

Is there a limit to how many people I can recommend the Contest to?
No!  We encourage you to recommend the contest to anyone you think would be eligible and interested. For purposes of referrals through the Contest portal, you can only recommend up to three people.

Are there examples of past winning essays that I can look at?
No. We generally do not make past winning essays public. You are encouraged to submit work that reflects your own style of writing.

Am I eligible to submit an essay if I was a winner in a previous contest from the Bill of Rights Institute?
Yes, winning students from previous years are eligible to participate in subsequent contests.  The entry submitted must be new and different from your previous winning entry.

If I didn’t win a prize, can I still find out how well I did in the Contest?
Because we receive so many entries, it is not possible to give individual feedback on entries. We realize that feedback is a vital part of becoming a better thinker and writer. For this reason, we encourage students to seek comments and feedback from teachers and other advisers before submitting their entry.

Is a title required for my entry?
No. Titles are not required for entries and will not be part of the evaluation process.

Will my entry be disqualified if I go over the word limit?
Unfortunately, yes.  This is required to help ensure no entry has an unfair advantage over another due to length.  Please adhere to the 800 word limit as given.

Do I need a Works Cited section/page with my entry?
We do not expect or require a Works Cited page or section for Contest entries. If you use quotes from individuals or research, simple citations will suffice. For example:

An example of what I am referring to comes from James Madison when he said in Federalist #51, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” (James Madison, 1788)

Either format for citing sources used in your entry will suffice.

What are the essay prizes?
Student Prizes

1st Place – $5,000 and a scholarship to Constitutional Academy
Runners Up – Six prizes at $1,250 each
Honorable Mentions – Eight prizes at $500 each
Refer a Friend – Ten random drawings of $50 each
Step Two Submission – Ten random drawings of $500 each

Scout Prizes

Girl Scout Winner: $2,500
Girl Scout Winner’s Troop: $500
Boy Scout Winner: $2,500
Boy Scout Winners Troop: $500

Teacher Prizes

Teachers of winning students: Fifteen at $100 each
Teachers with five nominations by students: Five at $50 each

What are the judges looking for?
We the Students Scholarship Contest submissions will focus on the ideas of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and their relevance today.  A well-written essay will completely adhere to the topic and fully answer all parts of the question. Judges are looking for the following:

  • adherence to the Essay Guidelines (as stated in Section III of the Rules and Regulations)
  • depth of analysis of documents and enduring importance
  • strength of personal response
  • originality
  • organization
  • writing style

How long does my essay have to be?
500-800 words

When will the winners be announced?
Winners for the Bill of Rights Institute’s We the Students Scholarship Contest will be announced on this website on or before April 12, 2016.

Can I use sources beyond those provided to me?
Yes, you can use other sources in your essay beyond those that are provided to you.

If I need help and can’t find the answer online, what do I do?
You can contact us via email at or you can call us at 703.894.1776

Bill of Rights Institute
Jeffrey Horne | Director of Student Programs, Bill of Rights Institute
Office: 703.894.1776 x 12 Bill of Rights 


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