Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

Once again, Gallery Aferro, the new Northern New Jersey Affiliate Partner of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, the nonprofit organization that presents the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (SAWA), invites tweens and teens in Bergen, Essex, Passaic, Hudson, Morris, Sussex, Union, and Warren County to enter the country’s longest-running and most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative students.

Celebrating Scholastic’s 101st year, young artists and writers in the Northern New Jersey Art Region can submit their creative works to be a part of one of the larger sections of the SAWA competition. Once your original work of artistic brilliance is submitted, it will be adjudicated by esteemed members of the local and regional arts’ community based on originality, technical skill, and the emergence of personal vision or voice and without knowledge of the student’s name, gender, age, ethnicity, or hometown.

To enter this year’s celebration and competition, visit

The deadline to apply in the Northern New Jersey Art region is 11:59pm on Saturday, December 16, 2023.

And to learn more about how this national groundbreaking program was created in 1923 to help foster creativity and talent for millions of students and burgeoning creative minds, like Tschabalala Self, Stephen King, Kay WalkingStick, Charles White, Joyce Carol Oates, and Andy Warhol, visit

For the third year in a row, Gallery Aferro will review the entries of more than 4,000 students, coordinate the adjudication process with some of the brightest and generous voices in the tristate area arts scene, and celebrate the award recipients and their beloved educators with their own Gold Key Award Exhibition in Spring 2024.

Founded in 2003, Gallery Aferro is an artist-owned alternative arts space proudly located in the heart of Newark, NJ. Their mission is to function as a platform for the exchange of ideas in service of advancing human dignity and beauty, with a focus on visual arts as the vehicle. Home to two major public exhibition spaces in a 20,000 sq. ft. building at 73 Market Street, Gallery Aferro offers exhibitions, events, a studio residency and fellowship program, educational programs, public art and new media initiatives such as their Poem Booth Project, a digital humanities publication line, and legacy work with elder artists.

Frequently Asked Questions

We understand that you may be new to the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards (SAWA) competition or you’ve simply lost track of how everything works with new changes being implemented each year in order to improve the submission process, streamline the art drop-off/pick-up for the Gold Key exhibition, and the awards and scholarship distribution.

With that in mind, Gallery Aferro thought it would be helpful to include the answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we receive about the SAWA competition. So please take a moment to review the FAQs below to see if it has the answers you seek.

However, if you have trouble finding the right answer to your question or you don’t see your question listed below at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us at or by phone at (973) 353-9533.

Questions about the Submission Process

Who is allowed to enter the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards?

All teens in grades 6–12, ages 13 and up, who reside in the U.S., U.S. territories and military bases, and Canada are eligible to enter art and writing the Scholastic Awards for the chance to win recognition and scholarships.

What are the art and writing deadlines for the Northern New Jersey region?

Saturday, December 16, 2023

How do I enter the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards?

To enter the Awards, follow these steps:

  1. Visit before 11:59pm on December 16, 2023 to create a student or educator account
  2. Create a new account.
  3. Upload your work and share your best art and/or writing.
  4. Complete your entry.
  5. Send a signed entry form and payment or fee waiver form to your regional program.

How do I know if I’m in the Northern New Jersey region? Where do I enter my work?

When you create your account at, you will be assigned to a region based on your school’s zip code. You may have a different regional program for art entries than for writing entries. 

How do I know what category I should submit my art to? Where can I find examples?

The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards offers 28 categories for students to submit their art. However, two of the categories are for graduating seniors only (the Art Portfolio category and the Writing Portfolio category). Visit the Categories page on the website to learn about each category in detail, as well as samples of past winners in recent years.

Are there size limitations for entered artwork?

There are no size limitations for art entries, however, regional and national exhibitions may not be able to exhibit oversized works in the Gold Key winners exhibition. Please contact Gallery Aferro at or (973) 353-9533 if you are selected as a Gold Key winner and we will provide information on size limitations regarding your work of art.

How much is the entry fee?

Entry fees are $10.00 per individual entry and $30.00 per portfolio entry.

The Awards are presented by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and its Affiliate Partners. Entry fees support both your local Affiliate and the Alliance to cover the cost of processing, customer service, scholarships, ceremonies, exhibitions, publications, and other general operating costs.

If the fee is a barrier to any student’s participation, we will waive the fee. Fee waivers are made possible, in part, by BLICK Art Materials. To learn more about how to request a fee waiver, please watch this video about Submitting Forms and Fees Through Your Student Account.

What size should my submitted image(s) be?

Uploaded images should have a print resolution of 300dpi and the file size should be no larger than 3MB–5MB. If you are unable to provide your file at “Excellent” print quality, then upload the best quality image you have.

Can a student enter work without an educator present?

Yes, students can create a profile and upload work on their own as long as they have an educator’s full name and email address designated on each entry.

Beginning this year, educators are no longer required to sign Entry Forms; a parent or guardian’s signature will continue to be required for each work entered into their regional program.

What information will I need to create an account?

To create your account, you’ll need:

  • Your Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Your Grade
  • School Zip Code
  • A Valid Email Address

To complete your profile, you’ll be asked for your:

  • Home Mailing Address
  • Phone Number
  • Parent/Guardian Name and Email

You will be asked some additional information, but these fields are not required. If you have any questions regarding the account set-up process, please contact Gallery Aferro at (973) 353-9533 or via

Questions about the Awards & Certificates

Will regional award winners receive paper certificates this year?

Printed paper certificates will not be provided via the regional affiliate this year. All regional winners will have access to digital certificates and congratulatory letters through their portal starting January 26, 2024.

When will I find out if I received a regional award?

Regional awards are presented by our Regional Partners in your local region. Notification dates and methods will vary, but all Affiliate Partners and Regional Programs will announce their awards on or before January 26, 2024. Log into your account then to view your Awards certificate.

I received a Gold Key. What happens to my work now?

Gold Key works automatically advance to national judging. In New York City, renowned creative professionals review Gold Key works from across the country. Jurors select work for national recognition based on three criteria: originality, skill, and emergence of a personal vision or voice.

National Awards will be announced on March 21, 2024 at

Questions about the Gold Key Exhibition at Gallery Aferro

When is the gallery exhibition for the 2024 Gold Key winners?

The Gold Key winners will have their artwork displayed in an exclusive exhibition at Gallery Aferro from March 2, 2024 to March 23, 2024. The opening reception will be held on Saturday, March 2nd. The start time for the reception is TBD.