27 Awards and Scholarships for Young Entrepreneurs (Kids, Teens, College)

Youth entrepreneur awards and scholarships for young entrepreneurs are great motivators to get your kid’s and student’s business plans out there. Not only that, but there’s real money they can earn for their future!

Did you know that there are lots of youth entrepreneur awards and scholarships for young entrepreneurs that award kids, teens, and college-aged students for their business plans, genius ideas, and overall creativity?mother with teen entrepreneur, text overlay "27 youth entrepreneur scholarships, awards and competitions"

I’ve set out to find as many of these opportunities for kid entrepreneurs, teen entrepreneurs, and college entrepreneurs as I can because I think this is a fantastic learning experience that will help your child and students in so many areas of their adult lives.

Not to mention, how exciting would be if they actually won one of these competitions?!

Let’s start with youth entrepreneur awards (each section is aged from youngest to oldest).

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Youth Entrepreneur Awards

First up? We're talking about available youth entrepreneur awards your kids can apply to, from Pre-K all the way up to when they are a college student. 

#1: W.I.S.E. Award

Ages: Pre-K to College+

Competition Type: Individuals

The Student Ideas for a Better America™ encourages students to develop their ideas by awarding the W.I.S.E. award to students who have new ideas to demonstrate and educational concept, a new idea for a product, or even an improvement for an existing product or procedure.

It’s an ongoing contest, with money awards given out each month.

#2: National Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Contest

Ages: 5+ years

Award Type: Individuals

Does your child participate in National lemonade Day? Well, they can enter their Lemonade Day Business Results to try and win this National Youth Entrepreneur of the Year award!

Youth Entrepreneur of the Year gets a $500 check, and the runner-up gets $300. Third prize is a $200 check. 

#3: National Gallery for America's Young Inventors

Ages: 5-19 years

Award Type: Individuals

Have you won an entrepreneur competition already, or do you own a patent? This is a Hall of Fame for Young Inventors, and anyone aged 5-19 who is a national winner in an invention competition or who holds a patent, can apply to be inducted.

#4: Unilever Young Entrepreneurs Award

Ages: 18-35 years

Award Type: Individuals

Unilever awards young entrepreneur initiatives that do one or more of the following:

  • Improve people’s health and well-being
  • Improve the health of the planet
  • Contribute to a fairer and more socially-inclusive world

Up to 8 winners can receive some form of money to further fund their growth, and the overall winner receives €50,000. All winners receive residential Accelerator Programme run by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, as well as a year of mentorship.

Youth Entrepreneur Competitions

What if your teen entrepreneur could win an award for their product, service, invention, or idea? That could look amazing on a resume, and possibly even get them some seed money or scholarships to use towards their future.

Take a look below, and see if there are a few your own child can apply to.

#1: Youth Biz Stars

Ages: 6-21 years (living in Colorado)

Competition Type: Team (3-4 members)

Young American’s Center for Financial Education hosts the Youth Biz Stars competition each year. Youth business owners at all stages in the game are welcome to apply. They could win up to $5,000, plus mentorship with a leading business owner in the community.

#2: Global Schoolpreneur Summit

Ages: Grades 6-12

Competition Type: Team (no more than 3 members)

This is a global competition; however, if you’re a finalist and cannot make it to the actual event, then you can do a virtual pitch on-stage. There are cash prizes (does not say how much), mentorships, and certifications of participation available.

#3: The Conrad Foundation’s Conrad Challenge

Ages: 13-18 years

Competition Type: Team (2-5 members)

Would competing at the Kennedy Space Center get your kid entrepreneur excited? This competition lets semi-finalist teams compete for the opportunity to present their product/service there.

Participants work together in teams of 2-5 members to develop solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems in one of four categories: Aerospace and Aviation, Energy and Environment, Cyber Technology and Security, and Health and Nutrition.

Finalist teams are considered “Pete Conrad Scholars”, and may be eligible for:

  • seed funding grants
  • investment opportunities
  • patent support
  • business services
  • scholarships

#4: Diamond Challenge

Ages: High School students

Competition Type: Teams of 2-4

Created in 2012, The Diamond Challenge focuses on teenagers “unleashing creativity, encouraging a mindset of abundance and self-determination, and promoting purposeful entrepreneurial action.”

Business and social concepts must be created by the members of the team, with no help from members outside of the team.

You team is competing for a $100,000 award.

#5: Innovator Competition

Ages: High school students

Competition Type: Individuals

To enter this competition, you’ll need a completed executive summary of your business plan. Finalists will need to give a 3-minute pitch via Zoom, and the grand prize is $1,500 ($3,000 in total cash prizes).

#6: New Venture Championship, University of Oregon

Ages: There is a high school competition, a college competition, and a graduate competition

Competition Type: Teams

Do you have a business that is majority-owned by students, and is looking for seed capital? Get an advisor and look into this competition. The first prize winner receives $25,000 in cash; the second-place finisher gets $10,000. More than $50,000 in total cash awards are given out.

FYI: Graduate competition is global, and the college and high school competitions are just for Oregon students.

#7: The Lead Roster B2B Sales & Marketing Scholarship

Ages: High school student or University student

Competition Type: Individuals

This is a $1,000 Scholarship awarded based on a student’s ability to both market and sell their own ideas. You’ll need to submit a YouTube video compelling these guys to award you this scholarship for your original idea.

#8: NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards

Ages: Graduating high school seniors

Competition Type: Individuals

Graduating high school seniors who are entering an accredited two or four-year university, AND who are running their own small business can apply to win scholarships valued between $2,000 and $15,000.

#9: Rhode Island Business Plan Competition

Ages: 18 years and older

Competition Type: Individuals OR Teams

In this competition, you first must apply. Then, if you get past that level, you have to submit your completed business plan.

There are $225,000 in cash and in-kind prizes (such as mentorships and free co-working spaces for 2 months) shared by winners and finalists. But, you should know that if you end up winning anything from this competition? You have to use the prize money to fund or continue operations of a business that employs Rhode Island residents.

You do not need to be a Rhode Island resident to participate.

#10: Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenger

Ages: College students and recent grades

Competition Type: Individuals and Teams (maximum 5 people)

Cisco is giving away $350,000 in prizes to award the world’s most innovative technology that helps solve social and environmental problems.

At least half your team must be college students. You should check out the resources section for tips on making pitches and other help.

#11: The Hult Prize

Ages: You must be in a university to compete

Competition Type: Team (3-4 members)

You don’t need an idea to enter this competition. Instead, you’re asked to form a team of 3-4 students from your university and submit an application to participate at any of the five regional finals locations held in: Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai.

Alternatively, your university may be hosting a Hult [email protected] on-campus event, in which case you can fast track your team's participation through competing in your local university edition.

One team’s idea will receive an amazing $1,000,000 in seed capital money!

#12: Rice Business Plan Competition (RBPC)

Ages: In Graduate School

Competition Type: Team

This is a student startup competition, with over $1.5 million in prizes that any student startup team from any university can apply to.

Each team must have at least one graduate-level student on the team.

#13: The Carnegie Mellon Venture Challenge

Ages: Undergraduate students

Competition Type: Individuals or teams of up to 5 people

Any team made up of undergraduate students enrolled at any university can compete in this competition for the chance to win a 1st Place prize of $7,500 cash, $4,000 legal services, and mentorship. Here are all the details.

#14: Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

Ages: Undergraduate, or Graduate (no older than 30)

Competition Type: Individuals

In order to compete, you must have a company that’s been operating for at least 6 months and that has generated at least $500 in revenue.

The competition starts out locally, then winners are chosen nationally, then 50 young entrepreneurs compete globally.

If you win at Global during the final rounds? You get $25,000. Second place gets $10,000, and third place gets $5,000.

#15: International Business Model Competition

Ages: Degree-seeking students

Competition Type: Teams of up to 5 people

This competition is different because it’s not based on a business plan, but rather, based on a business model. Over $200,000 in cash prizes awarded, and the first prize is $40,000. All finalist teams (there are 40) will receive $2,500.

#16: MIT Clean Energy Prize

Ages: University students

Competition Type: Teams of at least 2 people

Got a clean energy start-up idea that you think could change the world? This is the competition for you.

The Clean Energy Prize is open to any university student (even foreign students; however, the prize amount may be limited if there are no U.S. citizens on the team).

Fifteen business plans are chosen as finalists, and the teams that submitted those will have access to mentors to refine before the final judging.

Prize categories include a $100,000 Grand Prize and over $200,000 in other category prizes.

#17: U.Pitch Competition & Showcase

Ages: College student, graduate student, or graduated within last six months

Competition Type: Individuals

Students have just 90 seconds to give their ultimate elevator pitch during this competition. If they do it well enough? They could be looking at a $10,000 prize, plus a business idea showcase in front of hundreds of people in the entrepreneurial community.  

#18: SEC Student Pitch Competition

Ages: College students

Competition Type: Teams of students of SEC Universities

This is an idea pitch competition that lets teams of SEC universities compete against one another.

#19: University of California Berkeley’s Venture Capital Investment Competition

Ages: UC Berkeley graduate students

Competition Type: Individuals (but teams of 5 are formed from applications)

University of California Berkeley holds a Venture Capital Investment Competition, where students reverse roles and are in the position of judging other people’s business plans (from real entrepreneurs) to see whether or not they want to fund them with venture capital. Winners then go on to compete in the regional rounds.

#20: The $300K Entrepreneur’s Challenge

Ages: College students

Competition Type: Teams (at least one member has to be a student or alumni of NYU Stern)

R. Berkley Innovation Labs hosts an entrepreneur competition with both non-profit and for-profit tracks. There is a New Venture competition, a Social Venture competition, and a Technology Venture competition.

Top honors in the for-profit track is $75,000 in cash, and $100,000 is the top prize for the social-venture winner.

Scholarships for Young Entrepreneurs

In this section, you’ll find scholarships that young entrepreneurs can apply to both help fund their business idea and to help pay for furthering their education.

#1: The Conrad Foundation’s Conrad Challenge

Ages: 13-18 years

Competition Type: Team (2-5 members)

Would competing at the Kennedy Space Center get your kid entrepreneur excited? This competition lets semi-finalist teams compete for the opportunity to present their product/service there.

Participants work together in teams of 2-5 members to develop solutions to some of the world’s most complex problems in one of four categories: Aerospace and Aviation, Energy and Environment, Cyber Technology and Security, and Health and Nutrition.

Finalist teams are considered “Pete Conrad Scholars”, and may be eligible for:

  • seed funding grants
  • investment opportunities
  • patent support
  • business services
  • scholarships

#2: NFIB Young Entrepreneur Awards

Ages: Graduating high school seniors

Competition Type: Individuals

Graduating high school seniors who are entering an accredited two or four-year university, AND who are running their own small business can apply to win scholarships valued between $2,000 and $15,000.

Grants for Youth Entrepreneurs

Many businesses need funding to start, grow, maintain, etc. Getting a small business grant instead of a small business loan can be a great idea, especially if you’re not entirely sure a business is going to pan out.

Grants for youth entrepreneurs are a bit more difficult to find than grants for businesses owned by adults; however, they do exist!

Note: when you get a grant, chances are, you’ll have very specific things you are allowed to use the money for. This can limit you somewhat as you start and grow a business. Keep this in mind!

Grant #1: Thiel Fellowship $100,000 Grant

Ages: Anyone aged 22 and YOUNGER

Peter Thiel gives between 20-30 “young people who want to build new things” a $100,000 grant over two years through this grant program. Recipients will also receive support through the Foundation’s network, which includes founders, investors, and scientists.

Note to parents: one of the requirements with this grant? Is that your child has to drop out of school if they’re chosen. Please read more on the FAQ page.

Next up, I’m sharing some cool resources for teen and kid entrepreneurs.

Resources for Kid Entrepreneurs and Teen Entrepreneurs

I've done a ton of research on the subject of kid and teen entrepreneur, and wanted to include some stellar resources for you, here. 

Resource #1: Teen Entrepreneur Podcast

How cool that there’s actually a podcast all about teen entrepreneur stories and stuff! Unfortunately, it’s not longer being updated. However, if you’re just finding it, there’s tons of episodes to listen through.

Resource #2: Young Entrepreneurs Academy at your Local Chamber of Commerce

You might want to check out your local Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a Young Entrepreneurs Academy.

Students in grades 6-12 can enter a year-long program, where they, “…generate business ideas, conduct market research, write business plans, pitch to a panel of investors, and launch their very own companies.”

Resource #3: The Entrepreneur Toolbox App

The Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox is a really neat concept created by Anthony ONeal and Dave Ramsey. 

The entrepreneur kit includes the following:

  • Access to Free Entrepreneur Toolbox app
  • Teen Portfolio Book
  • DVD of Anthony’s Training Video
  • Parent’s Guide Book
  • Pack of Thank You Cards
  • Deck of Conversation Starter Cards about Starting a Business
  • Goal Tracker Poster

And the Entrepreneur Toolbox App is pretty awesome. It’s got the ability for your teen (and anyone, for that matter) to organize a business calendar for appointments, and even figure out profit potential for either a product or a service they’re thinking about trying out. You can also track savings goals!

Secret: you can access many of the features on the Teen Entrepreneur App without buying the kit – it’s a free app!

Resource #4: Warren Buffett’s Secret Millionaire’s Club

This is an animated series created by Warren Buffett, where he coaches kids through different business problems, ideas, and situations.

Resource #5: Kid and Teen Entrepreneur Books

I’ve created a list of 13 kid and teen entrepreneur books (all of which I read). One of my favorites for the teenage group? Was Steve Jobs: Thinking Differently.

Being an entrepreneur and pioneer is not all rainbows and unicorns. This book does not put a happy face on everything, and points out the struggles along the way as well. Such as working on dining room tables and in garages, making decisions that take entire decades to actually pay off, and creating a company that eventually kicks you out of it.

The talk about creating the first Apple computer and subsequent iterations I even found fascinating, and I’m not a tech-gal.

What I also loved about this book is how true Steve Jobs stayed to himself, and how curious he was. It weaves together his different interests – such as a calligraphy class taught by a former monk, and India – quite nicely into a fabric of influence that helped Apple emerge as the company + collection of products we know today.

Resource #6: Kid and Teenage Entrepreneur Kits

I reviewed a bunch of different entrepreneur kits for teens and kids, and found the following two to be the most helpful:

  • Boss Club (Ages 6-14)
  • Teen Entrepreneur Toolbox

Resource #7: Top 30 Colleges for Startup Funding

Best Value Schools ranked college around the U.S. to find the top 30 for young entrepreneurs who want to get funding for their business idea.

Bookmark this page and be sure to come back to it, as I'll continue updating it with more scholarships for young entrepreneurs, teen entrepreneur competitions, kid entrepreneur resources, and more!

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Amanda L. Grossman is a Certified Financial Education Instructor, a 2016 Plutus Foundation Grant Recipient, and founder of Money Prodigy. Amanda's kid money work has been featured on Experian, GoBankingRates, PT Money, CA.gov, Rockstar Finance, the Houston Chronicle, and Colonial Life. Read more here.
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