MARTINSBURG, W.Va. – State Treasurer Riley Moore on Tuesday kicked-off the statewide 2023 SMART529 “When I Grow Up” student and teacher essay contest at Potomack Intermediate School in Martinsburg.

The annual essay contest gives students around the state the chance to win up to $5,000 in SMART529 savings for higher education. Teachers have an opportunity to win a $2,500 cash prize.

“It’s critical for children to start thinking about their future careers as early as possible,” Treasurer Moore said. “The annual SMART529 When I Grow Up essay contest gives students an opportunity to explore potential job pathways and understand how they can achieve their dreams through post-secondary education, whether that is attending college or a trade school.”

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In its 16th year, the SMART529 When I Grow Up essay contest gives kindergarten through fifth-grade students a chance to win both SMART529 savings for higher education and cash prizes for their schools. Essay entries will be judged among five regions in three age groups (K-1, 2-3, 4-5), making for a total of 15 regional winners.

The regional breakdown is as follows:

  • Region I – Beckley/Bluefield area
  • Region II – Charleston/Huntington area
  • Region III – Clarksburg/Weston area
  • Region IV – Martinsburg area
  • Region V – Wheeling area

The 15 winners will be awarded $500 invested into SMART529 college savings accounts. Out of the regional winners, one grand prize winner will be randomly selected to receive a total of $5,000 in SMART529 scholarship money during an awards ceremony next fall at the state Culture Center in Charleston. Each winner’s school will also receive a $500 cash award.

Teachers of grades kindergarten through fifth also have the opportunity to compete in the teacher portion of the essay contest. This year’s winning teacher will receive a $2,500 cash prize.

The SMART529 When I Grow Up essay contest allows students to submit, in 100 words or less, an essay that explains what they want to be when they grow up. Entries will be judged on originality, creativity and the importance of post-secondary education.

Entry forms for both students and teachers are available at www.SMART529.com. In addition, entry forms will be available at elementary schools throughout the state. The deadline for entry forms and essay submissions is Friday, February 24, 2023.

SMART529 is a qualified tuition program issued by the Board of Trustees of the West Virginia College and Jumpstart Savings Programs and administered by Hartford Funds. Complete information about SMART529 plans and investment options is available at www.SMART529.com.