TMG teamed up with The Hartford and West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office to kick off the 11th annual When I Grow Up essay contest this morning at Rock Branch Elementary School in Putnam County. The hope is to help children across the state dream about their futures while sharing the SMART529 program with their families.

The essay contests gives students, K – 5, a chance to win up to $5,000 in a SMART529 account. Over the last ten years, we have awarded more than $120,000 in SMART529 accounts to students around the state and more than $90,000 to teachers, schools and homeschool associations.

So here’s how the contest works: your child or grandchild writes an essay in 100 words or less telling us what they want to be when they grow up and why. Get creative! Students can include illustrations, photos or other pieces to help them get inspired about their future career. Parents and teachers are welcome to help. Entries are judged on originality, creativity and importance of post-secondary education.

A panel of judges then selects 15 regional winners from around the state, and these students will receive a $500 SMART529 account. Their school or homeschool association also receives a $500 cash prize. Later this year, we will hold a press conference to celebrate our winners. During this event, we randomly select one of the regional winners as our grand-prize winner. This student will receive an additional $4,500 giving them a grand total of $5,000 to go toward their higher education savings.

In addition to the student essay contest, we ask teachers, grades K – 5, to tell us how they are using the SMART529 When I Grow Up essay contest in their classrooms to teach the importance of higher education to their students. Our judge’s panel selects one winner, and that teacher receives $2,500 cash.

This is such a fun project for us. In addition to reading the essays and helping the press event, we host a photoshoot with the winners later in the year to get images for SMART529 promotional materials. What we love most is helping students across the state dream big and spreading the word about the SMART529 program to families.

Schools will be receiving the SMART Family Newsletters this week around the state, which includes the entry form and information about SMART529. You can also head over to www.SMART529.com to download your entry form today. The deadline for entries is Friday, February 23, 2018.

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