About Knicks Poetry Scholars


The Knicks Poetry Scholars program is a partnership between the New York Knicks and Urban Word NYC that awards full tuition scholarships to the University of Wisconsin, Syracuse University, St. John’s University, Pace University and Mercy College to college bound high school seniors in the tri-state area. This competition aims to celebrate the value of outstanding students who demonstrate leadership qualities, community engagement, and a fresh perspective. Students who want a chance to win a full tuition scholarship will 1) apply to the schools of their choice, and after acceptance, 2) write an essay entitled the “Reason I Write” and submit it and a resume/CV and small portfolio of poems.

Students are provided with a twelve-week “Creatively College Bound” college prep workshop series where they receive step by step guidance throughout the college and scholarship application process. The complete application includes an essay, poetry portfolio and CV. Special “boot camp” sessions will also be provided for students to not only fill out applications to our partner schools, but also work on their essays and portfolios.

To enter to win: knicksscholars@urbanwordnyc.org or signup@urbanwordnyc.org or call Urban Word at (212)-352-3495.

Program Timeline
Free Creatively College Bound Workshops:

In Manhattan at Urban Word NYC (242 W. 27th Street btw. 7th & 8th Ave.)
Fridays, Sept. 28-Dec. 14 [4:30PM-6:30PM]

In Brooklyn at El Puente (211 South 4th Street @ Havermeyer)
Tuesdays, Sept. 25-Dec. 11 [5:30PM-7:30PM]

Creatively College Bound is geared towards High School juniors & seniors who want their creative critical voice to soar over the tedium of the college application process. Using spoken word and hip-hop as inspiration, we will write high-quality college application essays and explore numerous scholarship opportunities.

Free Knicks Poetry Scholars Application Boot Camps

In Manhattan at Urban Word NYC (242 W. 27th Street btw. 7th & 8th Ave.)
Saturday + Sunday Nov. 10 + 11, 2:00PM-5:00PM

Application Boot Camps are an opportunity to come submit applications to our partner schools, and ALL FEES are WAIVED.

The Reason I Write Essay Contest
DEADLINE for APPLICATION to SCHOOLS: DECEMBER 1 (NOV. 15 for University of Wisconsin)
DEADLINE for Essay + Portfolio: JANUARY 15

The Knicks Poetry Scholars program consists of an essay contest entitled “The Reason I Write,” accompanied by a resume/CV and a poetry portfolio. After a student is awarded admission into the various partner schools, she will then be eligible for the contest. All interested students will submit their college applications to the partner schools of their choice by December 1st (Nov. 15th for University of Wisconsin). Urban Word NYC will send packets to the admissions contact at each school, with all fees waived. Once all of the partner schools share with Urban Word NYC their acceptance list, students will be notified and have the opportunity to attend special sessions to complete their essay and portfolio (if they have not already done so).

Following this series, a select group of educators, teaching artists, community leaders, and other distinguished professionals meet to closely evaluate and rank each application using the criteria below. Upon reviewing all of the essays and portfolios, Urban Word NYC will submit a ranked list of the top 20 (if applicable) students recommended in order of scores, as well as copies of their essays and portfolios. At that point, each college/university partner will have the opportunity to rank the students as well, to pick their top 5 choices for the scholarship. College/University partners will also have the opportunity to interview their prospective top choices. Judging criteria is as follows:

*Essay (60% overall)
-Topic: The Reason I Write (60%)
-Originality (20%)
-Craft/Cohesiveness/Professionalism (20%)

*Curriculum Vitae (20% overall)
-GPA (30%)
-Civic engagement/Community service (40%)
-Extracurricular activities (20%)

*Poetry Portfolio (20% overall)
-Originality/Bravery (50%)
-Form and craft (50%)

-Students must be a high school senior or transfers 21 years old or younger
-Participants must be residents in the Tri-state area for at least one year

Read the Official Rules.

Community Partners and Sponsors

Mercy College The University of Wisconsin - Madison
St. John's University Urban Word

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