If you are like most teachers, you have plenty of creative ideas for supplementing your curriculum that require just a little more funding than you have available. You can get creative with writing grant proposals (see our teacher grants page HERE), you can get a crowdfunding initiative going with a service like Donors Choose, or, as happens more often than we like, you can dip into your own personal budget. Another, less often traveled path is to enter your students into sponsored contests. Contests are a fun way to get your students involved in their learning in a new and unique way. Competing against schools all across the country can be a great motivating factor, win or lose. And what’s more, there’s some attractive prize money available for you and your classroom.


Here are a couple of national contests that we’ve come across recently. Check them out and keep your eyes open for the many challenges offered by brands and non-profit foundations. Good luck, and may the best class win!



Lexus Eco Challenge


The Lexus Eco Challenge is really neat because of the tremendous opportunities it presents and the big payday for the winners. The contest is broken down into 3 separate challenges; The Land & Water Challenge, The Air & Climate Challenge, and The Final Challenge (by invite only). Giving away $500,000 in scholarships and grants, 16 teams will win $10,000 each for the first 2 challenges, and the Final Challenge winners get $30,000 (each of the 2 grand prize winners), in addition to $15,000 (8 first place winners). Of the winnings, $1,000 – $2,000 of the prize money goes directly to the teacher(s) who head up the project. That’s a pretty nice bonus on top of the many opportunities this opens for you.


The goal of the Lexus Eco Challenge is to build skills, apply teamwork, and develop a solution to an environmental issue that affects the community. Last year’s grand prize winner was a middle school from New Jersey who researched how dangerous microfibers are because of how they work their way into the ocean and the food supply. The winning team created a filter to remove the microfibers before they ever made it to the ocean.


Register your team by the following dates:

The Land & Water Challenge: 08/14/18 – 10/15/18 (now closed).

The Air & Climate Challenge: 10/17/18 – 12/10/18

Final Challenge (by invite only for the winners of the previous challenges): 01/30/19 – 03/13/19


To enter the contest, please visit www.scholastic.com/teachers/sponsored-content/lexus/about-the-contest.


Samsung Solve for Tomorrow


Another great contest is the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest. Their motto is, “see what your students can do.” This is a STEM-focused contest with a similar objective to the Lexus Eco Challenge. The purpose is to solve a problem in the community using a system or product that you and your team design. The payout on this contest is very generous: the grand prize winner receives $100,000 in Samsung technology and classroom resources. The national finalists receive $50,000, and the state winners $20,000.


The contest has been in effect since 2015 and last year a middle school in Kentucky took home the grand prize with their invention of a device to help first responders on the scene of a drug overdose. Their invention has won them big money as they continue to work on this idea with an online database that local community members can access to learn more about the opioid epidemic.


Important dates:

Register your team: 09/06/18 – 10/30/18

250 state finalists submit activity plan: 11/15/18 – 12/04/18

50 state winners submit project video: 12/18/18 – 02/15/19

10 national finalists begin social voting: 03/05/19 – 03/27/19

10 national finalists attend pitch event for winner announcement: early April


To enter the contest please visit: https://www.samsung.com/us/solvefortomorrow/index.html.



Jenna Garvin

Jenna Garvin has over 12 years experience as a freelance writer, blogger, and virtual assistant. She makes a living working from home and has even created a website to help train others who are looking to do the same. Her website Virtual Freelance Guide was created as a way to share her knowledge of those three great career opportunities with others.


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