Arts and Writing


The California State Summer School for the Arts in Valencia (near Los Angeles) is a state agency subsidized by the taxpayers of California, so it’s a good deal.  The 4-week residential program costs under $2000, including tuition room and board, and financial aid is available.  Out-of-state high school students pay far more for the same thing.  They offer programs in creative writing, film, dance, music, theater, and visual arts.  Admission is competitive.

New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) offers free studio art classes for teenagers.

The New Victory Theater in New York offers paid work and apprenticeships to high school students

The New York City Department of Education’s Summer Arts Institute, held at the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts High School in Astoria, Queens, is free.

The Cooper Union (New York City) offers free studio art classes to high school students through its Outreach Program and its Saturday Program, as well as other high school programs in art, architecture and engineering that charge for tuition

Once you’ve produced something, you might as well enter it for a Scholastic Art & Writing Award:

The Crucible, an arts organization in Oakland, offers instruction in blacksmithing, glass flameworking, welding, foundry, fire performance, and other fire-related arts.

The Lyric Stage Company of Boston’s First Stage is a moderately priced 5-week intensive summer drama program for youth 14-20.

Hollywood Cinema Production Resources’ After School Track training program allows underserved youth 15-18 in the Los Angeles area to learn the marketable skills (lighting, grip, set design, etc.) needed to work on film and television sets. They have direct connections to the appropriate entertainment industry unions.

The Spaulding Wooden Boat Center in Sausalito, California has a Youth Apprentice Program for teens in which you get to build wooden boats.

In our neighborhood College of Marin offers evening classes in machine tooling and welding and we know a high school student who took some of these classes. College of Marin has plenty of art classes too.  They even offer a class in primitive ceramics; you get to make pots using prehistoric materials and techniques.

Flyaway Productions Girlfly Summer Arts & Activism Project is a 4-week dance program for young women 14-19 in San Francisco that pays the participants $500

‘Til Dawn is an a cappella singing group consisting of about a dozen high school students.  We’ve known several students who belonged. You have to audition to get in, and it’s very competitive.  Some of our students also perform with Singers of Marin, The Marin Girls Chorus, or the San Francisco Boys Chorus.

California Coastal Commission Student Coastal Art & Poetry Contest open to all California residents K-12.


Grub Street is a nonprofit creative writing center in Boston.  Its Young Adult Writing Program includes free Saturday writing sessions during the school year, teen writing camps, and the 3-week YAWP Summer Teen Fellowship which cost nothing and pays the student a small stipend!

Hugo House is a place for writers in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.  It offers a free evening drop-in writing circle for teens, a volunteer program, a free mentorship program, open mic nights, and a two-week summer creative writing program for teens that is very moderately priced.

The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis’s Young Writer’s Program has moderately priced summer and year-around classes for youth.

Some other nonprofit writing centers with youth programs similar to Grub Street, Hugo House and the Loft include Writopia Lab in New York City, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, San Francsico’s 826 Valencia, the Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop in Denver, and the Attic Institute in Portland, Oregon.

The University of Iowa has a prestigious creative writing program for adults called the Iowa Writer’s Workshop.  Its Iowa Young Writer’s Studio, a 2-week residential summer program on campus for tenth, eleventh and twelfth graders is mostly taught by students and graduates of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Lots of other institutions offer residential summer programs in creative writing for youth, including:

Juniper Institute for Young Writers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst,
Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop (Ohio),
Duke University Young Writers Camp (North Carolina),
The University of the South’s Sewanee Young Writers Conference (Tennessee),
Emerson College Creative Writer’s Workshop (Boston),
Bard College at Simon’s Rock Young Writer’s Workshop (western Massachusetts),
Middlebury College’s New England Young Writer’s Conference (Vermont),
Pratt Institute’s summer programs (New York City)
Interlochen Arts Camp (Michigan)

The ten-day Princeton University Summer Journalism Program is free to low income high school students with high grades.  They even pay for your travel costs to and from Princeton.

The San Francisco Bay Area Youth Speaks Teen Poetry Slam is a big deal where we live.  Lots of our students participate.

The DeYoung Museum (San Francisco) has a free “Poets in the Galleries” program for youth

Teen Writing Contests:

National Young Arts Foundation for writers 15-18.  One to four poems not to exceed ten pages, novel excerpts, plays, short stories not to exceed 20 pages.  Prizes up to $10,000.  Mentoring, professional support, master classes.  October deadline.  This one has a $35 application fee.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award is for writers 11-17 anywhere in the world.  There are 100 winners; prizes.  There is no fee to enter.  July deadline.

Bennington Young Writers Awards for 10th, 11th, 12th graders.  Prizes to $500.  A group of three poems, a short story or one-act play, or a personal or academic essay. November deadline.

The Critical Pass Review Junior Poets Contest $100 prize + publication.  Ages 13-18.  One to three poems; up to six pages.  November deadline.  Submit online.

Creative Minds Writing Contest, Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.
1000 words creative nonfiction = memoirs, personal essays, travel writing, lyric essays, etc.
Winners published in Imagine magazine. November deadline.

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers for high school sophomores and juniors.  Winner receives a full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. The top three poems get published in The Kenyon Review, a widely read literary magazine.  Application period in November.  One poem; simple to enter.

Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students. You have to be an 11th grader.  Prizes to $500.  Enter in late autumn.

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (since 1923).  Poetry limit is five poems/200 lines total; lots of other categories: novels, humor, short story, art, etc.  You start applying online, but have to print, sign and snail-mail submissions with a $5 check.  December deadline.  Prizes, publications.

University of Idaho Hemingway Festival High School Writing Contest.
11th and 12th graders Submit October-January.  Fiction, nonfiction, essay, poetry.  Prizes up to $500.

Columbia College, Chicago Young Authors Writing Competition.  Fiction, creative nonfiction and/or poetry.  Prizes up to $300.  Grades 9-12; ten page limit.  Applications start November; deadline in January.

The Adroit Prizes for Poetry and Prose are for high school and college students.  You can submit up to eight poems or up to three prose pieces.  February deadline.

Save the Earth Poetry Contest for 10th, 11th and 12th graders.  $200 prize; no fee to enter.  Focus on environmental awareness. Contest begins in March.

The Word Works Jacklyn Potter Young Poets Competition.  You get to read your work at the Joaquin Miller Poetry series in Washington, DC.

The Power Poetry Slam: “My year in poetry.” $1000 scholarship, High School students only:

Ocean Awareness Student Contest. Art, Poetry, Prose, Film about the ocean environment.  Cash prizes up to $1,500; June deadline.

The California Coastal Commission Student Coastal Art & Poetry Contest is open to all California residents K-12.

The NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) administers a number of awards, including the Norman Mailer Student and Teacher Writing Awards (various categories), the Achievement Awards in Writing (for 11th graders; your teacher has to nominate you) and the Promising Young Writers Program (for 8th graders; your teacher has to nominate you.)

Youth Journals, Magazines, Anthologies:

The Claremont Review (Canada) publishes poems, short stories, plays, etc. by writers 13-19.  They accept submissions between September and April.  You send it by snail mail and include a cover letter.  There’s a contest that starts in January.!submissions/cnec

Once each year Aerie International publishes poetry, short stories, lyric essays, plays and photography by teenagers 13-19.  Prizes up to $100.  Pieces 1,500 words or less are more likely to be accepted.  February deadline.

The Interlochen Review publishes fiction, poetry, nonfiction, plays and art by teenagers.  Submit up to six pieces/ 5000 word limit. Submit in February.

Austin International Poetry Festival Youth Anthology (K-12) will consider up to three poems, submitted individually, 35 lines or less.  March deadline.

Winter Tangerine accepts submissions of 2–7 poems, or prose under 3000 words, between April and October.  It is for writers of all ages, but it does publish the work of teenagers.

Canvas Literary Journal, Writers & Books Literary Center, Rochester, NY is for writers 13-18.  Fiction, nonfiction, poetry plays.  Submit anytime.

One Teen Story Journal publishes teen authors four times per year.  Great short stories about teenagers 2000-4,500 words.  They pay you $500 and publish the story in their magazine.  Submit anytime.

Hanging Loose magazine has welcomed submissions from high school writers since 1966.  Send three to six poems or a short story by snail mail to the editors.

Skipping Stones magazine, founded in 1988, publishes poems up to 30 lines and prose up to 1000 words by youth writers.  The focus is on multiculturalism and nature writing.  You can submit your work by email or snail mail.

Thirteen to nineteen year olds can submit their work, including poetry, year-around to Teen Ink magazine.

Rattle Young Poets Anthology.  The poem has to have been written when you were 15 or younger; you can be up to 18 when you submit it.  A parent or teacher has to submit it.  June deadline.

For Playwrights:

Princeton University Ten Minute Play Contest.  You have to be an 11th grader.  Prizes to $500.  Enter in late autumn. 

Young Playwrights, Inc.  (Founded by Stephen Sondheim) 18 or younger; January deadline.  Just send them a play with your name, birth date, address, email and phone number on the title page.  You may win an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City for a Young Playwright Conference.

Writopia Lab Worldwide Plays Festival Competition might produce your play professionally in New York City if you win.  Prizes to $1000.  February deadline.

New Voices One-Act Competition for Young Playwrights. Nineteen years old or younger.  One-act play 10-40 minutes long.  No musicals.  Prizes to $200.  May deadline.


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