U.S. Creative Writing Awards
Young writers are our future, and we believe in investing in the next generation of readers and authors. In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, we host our annual Creative Writing Awards, looking for writing with a strong, clear voice by high school seniors who are daring and original.Applications are now closed due to 1,000 applications received on 1/2/2024.
We are thrilled to announce a new Freedom of Expression Award.
Book bans are on the rise in America, driven by new laws and regulations limiting the kinds of books young people can access—and books by and/or about LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities are disproportionately targeted. Penguin Random House and We Need Diverse Books believe books change lives, and that everyone deserves to see themselves in a book.
We are passionate about encouraging the next generation of readers and authors and promoting diverse voices and stories. For 30 years, we have supported this mission through the Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards, which in 2019 entered into an innovative new partnership with We Need Diverse Books. Through this program, we award college scholarships of up to $10,000 each to six U.S. high school seniors nationwide. In addition, honorable mentions receive “creativity kits,” which include a selection of Penguin Random House titles and writing resources. Creative Writing Award winners have gone on to become professional and award-winning authors.
This year, we are thrilled to announce that we are adding the Freedom of Expression Award to our program. This award is one of six creative writing awards given by Penguin Random House. Other categories include the Michelle Obama Award for Memoir, the Amanda Gorman Award for Poetry, the Maya Angelou Award for Spoken Word, and the Fiction/Drama Award. In recognition of the Creative Writing Awards previously being centered in New York City, the competition will award an additional first-place prize to the top entrant from the NYC area. Please find the full press release here.
The 2023-24 competition launches on October 16, 2023. If you are a current high school senior who attends public school in the United States, including the District of Columbia and all U.S. territories, and are planning to attend college – either a two-year or four-year institution –you are eligible to apply in the fall of 2023.
Since 1993, this program has awarded more than $2.9 million to public high school students for original poetry, memoir/personal essay, fiction/drama, and spoken word compositions. This signature program continues to empower and celebrate hundreds of young writers each year and underscores our unwavering commitment to identifying and nurturing new literary talent.
In addition to scholarships, Penguin Random House hosts a virtual development week for the Creative Writing Awards winners each summer that includes one-on-one virtual meetings with Penguin Random House editors, networking workshops, a panel about career opportunities in publishing, and fireside chats with Penguin Random House authors. The week concludes with a virtual awards ceremony.
To read a selection of the 2023 Winning entries, including a sampling of entries published in our 30 Years Anniversary Book, click here. To read a selection of previous year’s winning entries, click on the year: 2022, 2021, 2020, 2019
For more information please visit Penguin Random House Creative Writing Awards (scholarsapply.org).
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Applications are now closed due to 1,000 applications received on 1/2/2024. The application program will be available again in October 2024.