School Choice Group School Search Solutions LEAP Global Education Explorer

Discover Your Passion™ Competition Criteria

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The submitted work must be generated by, and substantive work must be performed entirely by, the student.  Parents may be involved with practical aspects of the project subject to age-appropriate demands.  However, significant parental involvement will disqualify entries. The following criteria, weighted as indicated below, will be used for the selection of Scholarship Award winners: 30% quality, process and scope of entry; 30% originality & creativity; 30% depth of knowledge or apparent passion for domain mastery; 10% use of funds to achieve desired goal.    


The Discover Your Passion™ Competition is open to elementary, middle school, and high school students, including public, private, charter and homeschooled students living or attending school within the 5 boroughs of NYC at time of submission. Scholarships will be judged and awarded to students within three tiered levels – students entering grades 2-5, 6-8, and 9-12. To be eligible for consideration as a Discover Your Passion™ award finalist, applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen residing in the United States, or a Permanent Resident of the United States residing in the United States, or be stationed overseas due to active U. S. military duty.
  • There is no minimum age for eligibility.
  • Obtain consent from a parent or guardian as part of COPPA compliance if applying online.
  • Show a serious dedication and passion to pursue mastery or dive deeper into a strong interest or talent area
  • May 3, 2016  Official Announcement of the The Michael Perelstein Memorial Scholarship Fund’s ‘Discover Your Passion’ Competition and Call for Entries, Application Submission Process Opens
  • September 12, 2016  Deadline for Applications
  • September 13 – Oct 7, 2016  Final Review and Selection
  • October 11, 2016  Awardees formally announced in media, partner sites, etc. Finalists, their families, and their schools/organizations will be notified by phone call and email. All participants will receive an email, noting whether or not they are designated as finalists.
  • November 5, 2016   Award Ceremony and Alumni Gathering
  • December 30, 2016  Financial awards will be disbursed to students.
  • January 3, 2017  Awardee projects begin.

Submissions must include these components:

  • Application, to be submitted online or download printed version.
  • Detailed project, portfolio, performance or paper that is considered a significant sample of the student’s work. The work may be submitted for consideration by video, audio, text or photo upload via the competition website. For example, for an entrepreneurial project, students may submit a photo of a product and a Powerpoint slideshow deck, or a text document describing the entrepreneurial venture; An artist or designer may submit a portfolio of their work via photos or link to a YouTube video; A performer may submit a link to a YouTube video of a dance or theater performance; A violin player may submit a a link to a YouTube video performance or upload a piece of music via audio file.
  • One-page essay about the work, detailing: why and how the work was pursued, the challenges that were encountered, a description of why the submission is significant.
  • Description of use of funds if entry is selected. This must include a brief action plan of what the funds would be used for and how that use would improve, support or further the passion, talent or gifts of the recipient. A budget must also be submitted following a specific format. [See Application, Budget Template, PART 3]
  • Nomination Letter – Letter may be from a teacher, counselor, principal or other relevant authority or other adult who is familiar with the child as well as the talent or passion area.

Submission Formats
Work must be presented and uploaded in one or more of the following formats:

  • TEXT. Text documents may include writing samples, poetry, and all other text-based bodies of work.
  • AUDIO. Audio may incorporate musical performance and all other audio-based presentations of work but may not exceed 5 minutes in length. This shall serve as a sampling for longer form works.
  • VIDEO. A link to a YouTube video is preferred, though, it should not exceed 5 minutes in length. This should serve as a sample of the work if the actual work is beyond 5 minutes in length.
  • PHOTO. This may include photographs or other works best represented through photo submission.

* We realize some works may require more than one format for submission. Please use your best judgment for submission purposes.

  • Discover Your Passion Finalists must be able to attend, with at least one parent or guardian, the awards reception and other recognition events to be held in November, 2016 in NYC
  • The finalists and winners must agree to have their works on display during the G&T Symposium and related events. The winner also agrees to allow display of winning entry and supporting documentation via the P.A.L. Workshops website, School Choice International and Competition webpage for at least one year or longer.
  • Discover Your Passion Winners must be willing to submit the Competition documentation to include: a Final project produced by the child that details the process description produced by the child, parents and/or school, two financial reports- one interim update on program status and use of funds and one final, post project assessment exercise.
  • Discover Your Passion entrants must sign a waiver agreeing that the work is their own.
  • Incomplete applications will be disqualified.
  • Each applicant may submit only one application. Applications may be submitted online or via regular/snail mail only. Supporting documents may be submitted within either process. And links to media (performances, film, video, websites, apps, or other formats) also must be included within that format.

Teachers, guidance counselors, music instructors, principals or other adults who are familiar with your work may submit a Reference Form. Parent or Family members/relatives may not serve in this capacity. One reference letter is required and must be submitted using the online form before the submission deadline. Applications with missing Forms as of the deadline will be disqualified.


The Discover Your Passion™ Competition will award the grand prize winner $5000 toward his or her pursuit; there will be up to 9 more awardees, to receive appropriate support for their projects, for a total of $25,000.  Finalists will be selected from each of three age categories: 2-5th grade; 6-8th grade; 9-12th grade.  The scholarship winners will be announced on October 11, 2016.  For complete information about the scholarship and to apply, see

Administration of Funds

Funds may be used for tuition, programming, instruction, mentoring, etc. and related expenses. Use of funds will be strictly monitored based on original documentation and budget. All monies will be allocated directly to the organization, program or business to which was approved in the application and use of fees summary.

Use of Funds

Each scholarship may be used only for the purpose originally detailed in the application, and related expenses supplied within the budget. The ADVISORY BOARD shall determine the time and conditions of payment of scholarships at its sole discretion and may specify the documentation required to ensure that the recipient is following an appropriate course of study. If the Recipient withdraws from the program for which s/he sought funding-  or his or her progress is unsatisfactory and the recipient makes no alternate arrangements to pursue courses at the same or another educational institution – then, at its sole discretion, the ADVISORY BOARD may terminate the scholarship.


The criteria for judging entries are:

  • 30% quality, process and scope of entry;
  • 30% originality & creativity;
  • 30% depth of knowledge or apparent passion for domain mastery;
  • 10% use of funds to achieve desired goal.    

Each submission will be examined for completeness and sorted according to categories (grades 2-5, 6-8, and 9-12) before being evaluated by an independent team of judges comprised of professionals with expertise in related domain areas. The team of judges may, at their sole discretion, consult with additional experts to assist in evaluating the merits of each submission. The independent team of judges, the DYP Jury Committee, will first narrow down entries to the top 5 finalists by tier and then by domain specialty (academics – math, science, language arts; music, fine arts, dance; financial literacy and entrepreneurship; interdisciplinary or other) The DYP Jury Committee, will make a final selection process OR may elect to poll the public via the P.A.L. Workshops site, School Choice Intl site and the Competition webpage, as well as across social media outlets.

Judges will identify the competition finalists and decide who will receive the grand prize of $5000, there will be up to 9 more awardees, to receive appropriate support for their projects, for a total of $25,000. Finalists will be selected from each of three age categories: 2-5th grade; 6-8th grade; 9-12th grade.  Finalists confirmed by October 7, 2016.  Awardees announced on October 11, 2016.

No one may act as a judge with respect to an application if he or she is related to any applicant, or otherwise feels that he or she might be, or appear to be, biased. Employees, Trustees (and other immediate family members) of the ADVISORY BOARD; and the Judges (and their immediate family members) are not eligible to apply for or be recognized as an Awardee. The Discover Your Passion Competition™ Advisory Committee does not discriminate based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity or physical disability. All selection decisions are final.

Jurors will be selected to include 8-10 members from across relevant expertise areas and may include domain experts within media, the fine arts, education, music, dance, theater, sports, entrepreneurship, children’s entertainment and others.

Advisory Board Discretion
Any intellectual property contained within the P.A.L. Workshops/ School Choice Discover Your Passion™ Competition applications remains the property of the applicant.

Discretion of ADVISORY BOARD
Binding Nature of Decisions. By submitting an application, we acknowledge and agree that all decisions of the ADVISORY BOARD regarding the award program and the grant and use of scholarships and other awards may be made by it in its sole and absolute discretion, subject only to compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations. As such, all decisions of the ADVISORY BOARD and its committees and judges shall be final and binding and are not subject to challenge by entrants in any manner. The number of scholarships to be awarded shall be determined by the ADVISORY BOARD in its sole discretion.

Termination and Amendment of Program.
The ADVISORY BOARD reserves the right in its sole discretion to terminate this  program at any time and for any reason and to change any or all of the rules regarding the grant or use of any scholarships. No such termination of the award program shall apply so as to terminate a scholarship winner’s right to an award previously granted unless such termination is required in the reasonable opinion of the ADVISORY BOARD to comply with applicable laws or to assure the ADVISORY BOARD that its tax exempt status will not be affected negatively or unless the continued payment of such scholarship will result in any form of tax being imposed upon the ADVISORY BOARD or any of its affiliates, officers, directors, employees or representatives. In addition, amendments to the program may affect the terms and conditions of use of awards previously granted.  

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