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We are passionate about encouraging the next generation of readers and authors and promoting diverse voices and stories. For more than 26 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 five 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.

Since 1993, this program has awarded more than $2.8 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.

Click here to read the winning entries from our 2020 competition.

Click here to read the winning entries from our 2019 competition.

Applications are now closed. Please check back in November 2021.

Our U.S. College Scholarship Award Winners


Chloe Cramutola

Maya Angelou Award for Spoken Word

Absegami High School
Stamford, NJ

Ally Guo

Fiction & Drama

William Mason High School
Mason, OH

Evelyn Lee


Sam Houston High School
Moss Bluff, LA
My Mother Rejected God When She Was 19 But I Don’t Think God Ever Really Got Over It

Tandika Somwaru

Midwood High School
Brooklyn, NY

Poetry (NYC Entrant Award)

How to Write the Great Guyanese Novel

Ajok Thon

High Tech High Media Arts
San Diego, CA

Personal Essay/Memoir

(Un)erasable Shade

Ivana Cortez

Personal Memoir

Galena Park High School
Galena Park, Texas
Planet: Elkhart, Indiana

Orlane Devesin

Maya Angelou Award for Spoken Word

Hiram High School
Hiram, Georgia
Evolution of the Black Woman

Jeffrey Liao


Livingston High School
Livingston, New Jersey
Museum of My Own History, Age Sixteen

Erika Whisnant

Fiction & Drama

Burke Middle College
Morganton, North Carolina
Loophole Abuse

Maya Williams

Top NYC Entrant

Edward R. Murrow High School
Brooklyn, New York
To My Catcaller

Kiora Brooks

Maya Angelou Award for Spoken Word

Topeka West High School
Topeka, Kansas
The Misinterpretation of Dark Skin

Nora Carrier

Top NYC Entrant

Edward R Murrow High School
Brooklyn, New York
Stories My Mother Tells Me

Siobhan Cohen

Personal Essay

Hunter College High School
New York, New York
American Jew

Samantha Kirschman


Kenston High School
Chagrin Falls, Ohio
Blood Moon

Katherine Sanchez


Stuyvesant High School
New York, New York
Red-White-and-Brown Skin

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