Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The spark of life lies in the whimsical and volatile creative minds of young people. Every day, youth are faced with society’s hard-pressing issues and bringing those issues to the forefront, in their own voice, can help make positive change. Through spoken word, sculpture, or photography, it is important for youth to have the space to express themselves creatively at school and to be recognized for their creative work on meaningful platforms. Scholastic Corporation hosts the yearly Scholastic Art & Writing Awards recognizing youth creativity in the United States. By combining their company’s mission and their brand, Scholastic has created a powerful platform for young artists nationally and in New York City.

The Scholastic Awards were created in 1923, just three years after the New York-based publishing, education, and media-based company was founded. The Scholastic Corporation aims to cultivate the minds of youth, open the dialogue on cultural heritage, “enlarge students’ concern for and understanding of today’s world,” and promote “excellence in creative expression in all fields of learning, literature, and art.” Participants range from grades seven through twelve, submitting original works each year in art and writing categories such as architecture, painting, flash fiction, poetry, print making, and video game design. Prominent past award recipients include Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Sylvia Plath, and Zac Posen.

Scholastic has attracted like-minded businesses, foundations, and scholarship partners at prestigious institutions like Parsons School of Design at the New School, School of Visual Art (SVA), and Purchase College SUNY, School of Art & Design. The New York Life Foundation Award, co-sponsored by the New York Life Foundation, recognizes “teens exploring issues of grief and bereavement in their creative work and provides six young artists and writers with $1,000 scholarships.” They also partner with major New York cultural institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art where they have showcased 600 works of art and writing by New York City teen winners, selecting works based on “originality, technical skill, and emergence of a personal voice or vision.” New York City students submitted nearly 11,000 works for the 2017 awards, representing more than 300 schools from all five boroughs.

The Scholastic Awards are remarkable in their willingness to encourage and elevate young artists who work through challenging current events, politics, identity, and emotions. Scholastic Corporation is not only a high performing literary and media company, but also recognizes the importance of elevating youth voices, art, community, and their company to creatively fulfil their corporate mission.

Image: Ghost Real by Amadi Rubie, Grade 11,  Age 16, Benjamin N. Cardozo High School, Oakland Gardens, New York