What We Look For In A Scholarship Application

Our annual scholarship is due in a few short months, so we can only hope that scholarship applicants are gathering everything they need to submit their final project. 

Do you know what goes into choosing scholarship winners? A lot more than you think! Hours and hours of reading, re-reading, crowdsourcing from everyone in our company, and even late-night chats with family members discussing each individual applicant and what their project entails. Oh, and more re-reading of applications. Yes, that’s right. Every single application gets picked over, analyzed, and discussed, we take each application very seriously and everyone is considered, it’s not just a skim read of all of the information and picking and choosing what sounds good. When I say that we pour hours into this, I am very serious about it. 

So what exactly is it that we are looking for in your scholarship application? You can read an overview on our scholarship page, but here’s a deeper dive to help you see our thought process. 


1) The quality & quantity of work already completed

We want to see a quality project that has been given time and effort, meaning there is a large quantity of information we can see and read. Your project is your baby, you’ve put so much time and effort into it, but we know nothing about it! Paint us a picture of exactly what you’ve been working on, how you’ve achieved it, and your why behind starting the project in the first place. If it’s written well, we can hear the passion behind what you’re doing. And spoiler alert: we also pay attention to correct grammar and punctuation. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it is something you should be mindful of when submitting. 

2) The potential for future long-term impact

Unless you are selected as the top winner winning the $5,000 grant toward your project to continue funding it, you are not required to continue your project after you have received your scholarship. However, we are more likely to choose the winners based on the likelihood of a continuing project that will keep impacting the community in a positive way. 

3) General community relevance of the project

Your project can be just for your school, your school district, or even more widespread in your community in some way. However, it needs to directly impact those in your neighborhood. Meaning, if you’re creating materials or resources for a third-world country, you will need to find a way to tie it back into your community. That can be by them volunteering to help with your project or having it impact them in some way, too. 


Finalists may also be asked for proposals on how they would use the $5,000 grant if selected as the top recipient, and the more specific those plans, the better (especially if they involve plans to seek additional funding or perpetuate the fund toward your project in the long term).

Once we’ve narrowed it down to our top projects, one final question to help us pick apart the final winners is based on how you answer our question about the $5,000 grant. It also helps us choose the grant winner as well. If asked this question by our team, take it very seriously! 

Other things we are looking for while choosing the winners: 

Completion of the project- If we have to track down your project information, pictures, videos, etc., it can be a red flag. Make sure all of your information is completed and in the final submission. 

Organization of project- If it’s jumbled and hard to pick out the information, it can be easy for us to overlook the project and not spend the time picking through all of the minute details. 

The passion- Again, we can tell in your submission how passionate you are about the subject based on how you present it to us. Show us your passion! Tell us what got you started with the project you are working on and what’s driving you to continue working on it. 

Take these tips and put them into your final project. I promise by doing so will help your application shine above the rest.

An Update on Our 2019 Scholarship Winner: Anthony Neil Tan

We reached out to Anthony Neil Tan this spring for an update on his Maker Hub Club and where they are today. He did such a great job highlighting their accomplishments that I will let you read it directly from him, instead of paraphrasing it for you! You can see the post on him as a scholarship winner here.

From Anthony:

💸Our student maker funding program called Instructor Awards, where students write an Instructable teaching others how to make something and receive reimbursement for material expenses.

  • Custom Gaming Keypad With RGB 
  • How to Refurbish an Old Skateboard

💻We taught an 8-week virtual Arduino Programming Workshop to 10 students hailing from across the nation

⚙️We held monthly Makers Meetings to foster community and held engaging activities

  • We held an April Fools Prank challenge where two winners were awarded with a $25 Amazon gift card each.
  • Check out a video on one of the winning projects here.

🎉We got t-shirts and keychains to spread our spirit and pride in what we do!

  • We got 26 t-shirts (16 for volunteers and 10 as prizes for our student maker spotlights and for our special awards recipients in the 2021 InventorsFair, which we participated in as judges.) 

🎤We participated in Makers + Mentors’ Make For All Commitments in support of maker-centered learning!

  • I’ll be a guest speaker at the Make For All Commitments Celebration event, representing Maker Hub Club and speaking about the wonderful experiences of being a student maker.

✔️We are rebranding to Student Makers because we feel this organization name truly resonates with our commitment to serving the student makers community!

Maybe We Don’t Need To Be Worried About Our Future

the youth of our future is inspiring

Recently, I’ve spent a lot of time talking and interacting with high school-aged students. This has been through our recent scholarship, through serving the youth of my community, and through visiting high schools to spread the word about our 2022 scholarship

I’ll have to admit, the last time I spent this much time with kids ages 14-18 was when I was that age! Though I’m not too far off in age from them (about ten years their elder), I still have felt a disconnect to this age and culture that I’ve had to reprogram my brain to figure out. And like the majority of our society, I originally looked at this age group and was worried about our future! The way they talked, dressed, thought, and even walked had me worried that someday our world would be run to the ground by these children when they turned into the adults that would be the leaders of the country. 

However, after more interactions and more conversations, my thoughts on their future flipped. 

Though they walked and talked and interacted differently than what I was used to, they are still filled with big ideas and dreams, and hopes for the future. They are still amazing leaders with budding skills on how to work together as a team to accomplish tasks they need to be done. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and check out our past winner’s page for our scholarship. There are 7 OUTSTANDING students that noticed a problem in their community and set out to solve it, whether in a group or by themselves with a mentor’s help. And these are just the winners! I read through dozens and dozens of applications with similar drives to help their community in some way. There was not one single application that did not deserve some recognition for the work they were doing, they were all inspiring. So you can imagine, choosing a winner was very, very hard. 

And this was just my interactions with high school-aged students applying for a scholarship. I’ve also been able to interact with the youth of my community through service in my church, as well as brief interactions with this age of kids in high schools. And yes, I will still always question why they are so into TikTok or why crop tops are the shirt of choice right now?? But the coolest thing about the human race is that we don’t all have to think, act, and dress alike to get along or understand one another. 

These 14-18-year-olds are coming into our society with newfound knowledge of technology, social media, teamwork skills, and more than we as older generations cannot comprehend or will never know. 

So, maybe we really don’t need to be worried about our future. Maybe this TikTok, crop top generation has a thing or two to teach us about life. 

Scholarship Winner Update: Caitlin Gill

Our 2020 scholarship winner, Caitlin Gill, was an inspiration to everyone when she created F.L.EX.S.P.A.C.E., an online platform for students with disabilities to come together for various activities. You can read our original blog post on Caitlin here

One year later, here is the update Caitlin sent us: 

“F.L.EX.S.P.A.C.E. is doing very well! We currently have events six days per week including workouts, a Music Jam Session every Thursday, and a social event on Saturdays. Twice a month we have in-person events either at a park, food place or at the movies. We recently had a Movie Night Out where we saw Space Jam together. 

For the month of June, we provided daily life skills and wellness workshops online via Zoom. These were a huge success as we encouraged independence by teaching important skills. The most popular workshop was our “Cooking with Caitlin” workshop where we cooked something new every Monday. 

The scholarship that HonorsGradU provided has enabled us to purchase supplies for our in-person events, cover technology costs (since we are mainly online), cover tax document costs and provide a means to host our social events. I cannot thank HonorsGradU enough. I have received so many comments from families and participants expressing how important F.L.EX.S.P.A.C.E. is to their social well-being. We would not be able to impact our special needs community without your support.”

Scholarship Interview: Alexis Brotherton

“This is part of a series of interviews with our scholarship recipients for our 2021 Build A Better Future scholarship sponsored by Honors Graduation. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our 2022 program, click here

Our next scholarship recipient is Alexis Brotherton. Alexis created an Agriculture Field Day for members of her community to promote agriculture awareness. This project started a few years ago for her, but because of COVID, it continued to be put off. She was finally able to carry through with her full project recently and it started off great! 

Alexis has been involved with 4H for a lot of her life, so she knows the ins and outs of ag very well. She created surveys sent to peers, teachers, and community members to gauge where the lack of information was, as well as the most needed topics to cover. Once she received this information back, she created the content for the ag field day. 

Alexis was able to pull off this event with a lot of community volunteers at each station that helped teach the information they were presenting as well as manage any hands-on activities at the event. When the community members showed up at the event they were greeted by Alexis herself at the check-in table where they were told about each of the stations and sent on their way from there to learn more. 

This event was Alexis’s trial run for bigger, future events. Currently, her focus is on starting college and succeeding in that area, but once she has more time, she wants to focus on more events, around 1-2 times a year and changing up the topics each time for repeat patrons. 

Alexis is doing great work and is doing a great job promoting ag education and bringing clarification on the subject to the residents of her community. She is attending Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for school. 

Scholarship Interview: Our Top Winner- Kayla Klurman

This is part of a series of interviews with our scholarship recipients for our 2021 Build A Better Future scholarship sponsored by Honors Graduation. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our 2022 program, click here

Our top 2021 scholarship winner was Kayla Klurman, who also received a $5,000 grant for her project, Kayla’s Care Bags. She graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School in Miami, Florida. Kayla sat down next to a girl named Rosy during lunch at school and listened to her story about foster care and how hard it was for them to obtain the proper clothes, shoes, basic toiletries, and school supplies. This moment is what sparked Kayla’s interest in starting up Kayla’s Care Bags. 

These are care bags made specifically for foster kids in Kayla’s community. They are put together by donations from others in her community, picked up personally by her, and then placed in bags organized for specific ages and genders. Take a quick look at the process here: 

Kayla primarily used social media to spread the word on the needs of Kayla’s care bags and would drive to various places within her community to pick up supplies and put the bags together. One problem Kayla felt like she was running into and wanted to troubleshoot was that she was only able to know the ages and genders of those entering the foster care system so she could not put together personalized bags. In order to work through this, she’s brainstormed closets made specifically for foster kids to enter, shop around for what they need, and take free of charge. Kayla is also focusing on stocking the closets with maternity clothes and items for those in foster care that are pregnant. She would have to work hard to keep these closets stocked with items, but with help from the $5,000 grant, it will be possible. 

Kayla is an inspiration to us all! She heard a story from a friend that encouraged her to make a change in her community. She saw the problem and found a solution.

Kayla will be attending Davidson College in North Carolina studying political science. 

Feature Friday: Isaac Stone

teaching geography

Welcome to Feature Friday! Today we are interviewing past scholarship winner, Isaac Stone. Isaac won our scholarship in 2018 when he created a prototype for an invisible cane. You can see more about his project here. 

I have been in contact with Isaac to get an update on where he is now. He is attending Washington University in St. Louis, MO. where he is double majoring in computer science and mechanical engineering and has kept busy with multiple projects and service opportunities throughout his time there. 

Related to his project, he has been teaching students with disabilities how to code via Skype and Zoom. He has been able to assist in writing and suggesting curriculum for this program, and also adjusts it to each student’s particular needs. 

Isaac writes, 

“I’ve been teaching a tenth grader on the spectrum for over a year now, and I have taught two other students with various obstacles and abilities in 7th and 8th grade respectively.  I work as a volunteer, and have greatly enjoyed watching as my students have learned not just how to program, but also valuable computer skills, such as how to make computers accessible to them, whether it be using an editor with high contrast and dyslexia fonts, or learning how to scroll over items for alt text and learning how to intuit what different icons and buttons do.”

Isaac has been working with CodeConnects which primarily serve underrepresented youth by providing one-on-one lessons. All of this was online before COVID, so he is excited to continue doing this. He found this group while doing research for his invisible cane, the project that won him our scholarship in 2018. 

Isaac also writes, 

“As AR technology becomes more prevalent it may become easier to write simple AR apps and test them without going through licensing processes to get access to the full backend of an iPhone, and I hope that will be the case since AR technology necessarily measures distance using vision recognition software.  I have certainly thought about how to expand this project. However time and energy constraints have held me back, partly because the technology necessary already exists but it’s not easily accessible yet, and partly because my other endeavors have very visible impacts on individuals.

Other notable achievements Isaac has been doing at college is being the aerodynamics team lead for his school’s design, build, fly team. Playing bridge with fellow students. Singing bass for a school acapella group. He was involved with a full-time internship with MITRE Corporation this summer, as well as another internship with a startup company called Apptronik the previous summer. He is also a regular member of washU composers club. 

Isaac is accomplishing great work in college and we are proud to have him as a past scholarship winner!