I Am Philadelphia Contest

9th-12th graders: show off your one-of-a-kind talent to win one-of-a-kind prizes through this year’s I Am Philadelphia contest: presented by PhillyGoes2College in partnership with Wawa Welcome America and Vanguard. Like PhillyGoes2College and The Wawa Welcome America Festival, this contest is a celebration: a celebration of self and a celebration of Philadelphia.

The contest asks Philadelphia high school students to submit original work in one of four submission categories: music, visual art, spoken word performance, or investment. Top submissions in each category will be reviewed by judges at the forefront of Philadelphia’s creative and financial fields.

Join us on Saturday, January 14th for our Kickoff Event! See details at the bottom of the page. 

Important Dates

  • December 14, 2022: submission period opens
  • January 14, 2023: I Am Philadelphia Kickoff Event
  • April 14, 2023: submission deadline
  • May 2023: winners announced
  • June 19 – July 4, 2023: Wawa Welcome America Festival

Prizes

One winner in each category will receive a $1,000 cash prize ($875 provided by Vanguard with a match of $125 from Wawa Welcome America).

Winners will also receive exclusive mentor sessions, the opportunity to perform or display their work at the 2023 Wawa Welcome America Festival, and preferred seating area or special guest experience tickets to the festival’s July 4th concert and fireworks. 

How To Enter

Please contact kstaskel@philaedfund.org with any questions.

Rules for Entry

  • You must be a Philadelphia high school student to enter.
  • Students must work individually. We cannot accept entries from teams or groups. 
  • Entries that contain profanity or otherwise discriminatory language will be disqualified.
  • Entries must be your original work. Covers will not be accepted and entries that contain plagiarism will be disqualified. 
  • Entries in music, visual art, or spoken word must respond to the theme (see below). 

Respond to the Theme

Music, visual art, or spoken word performance submissions must be based on one of the two prompts below, each of which asks students to explore their vision for themselves and the City of Philadelphia and how their unique talents and aspirations will contribute to Philadelphia’s bright future.

 

  • Option #1: Great Things Are Happening In Philadelphia
  • Option #2: I Am College Bound

Submit Your Entry

Click here to submit your entry by the April 14th deadline. Before you begin working on your entry, see below for important details about each submission category. 

Tips for Success in Music, Art, and Poetry

  • Show us who you are: be specific, be original, be YOU!
  • Choose a topic you are passionate about and make viewers feel that passion too.
  • Judging criteria will include the quality, originality, and impact of the piece as well as its adherence to the theme.
  • Ask your friends, teachers, or tutors for feedback. Make revisions and try out a few drafts before you decide you’ve arrived at your best work. 
  • In the music and poetry categories, illustrate your ideas using descriptive, precise, and concrete imagery or examples. As writing teachers the world over would say, “show instead of tell!” 
  • For the spoken word category, try to memorize your poem. This will allow you to perform your piece instead of simply reading it aloud. 

Right to Share

By submitting to the I Am Philadelphia contest, I grant the following entities the right to publish, reproduce, and/or adapt my entry and its contents (including for promotional purposes) online and/or in-person: PhillyGoes2College, the Wawa Welcome America Festival and festival partners, The Philadelphia Education Fund, The City of Philadelphia, NBC10 Philadelphia, Telemundo 62, Comcast NBCUniversal, DragonTree Media Group/We The People Stage, Vanguard, and I Am Philadelphia contest partners.

Spoken Word

Music

Visual Art

Investment

Submit a video performance of no more than three minutes. Your piece must be original and unpublished.

Prizes

  • $1,000 cash award
  • Mentor session with QuentinThePoet
  • Opportunity to perform at the 2023 Wawa Welcome America Festival
  • Two preferred seating area tickets to the festival’s July 4th concert and fireworks

Judges

  • Jeannine Cook: writer and owner of Harriett’s Bookshop and Ida’s Bookshop
  • QuentinThePoet: storyteller and Executive Director of We The People Stage
  • Telicia Darius: 2022-2023 City of Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate
  • Trapeta Mayson: 2020-2021 City of Philadelphia Poet Laureate

 

Submit a video of no more than three minutes. All lyrics and/or music must be original and unpublished.

Prizes

  • $1,000 cash award
  • Mentor session with Benjamin Thomas
  • Opportunity to perform at the 2023 Wawa Welcome America Festival
  • Two special guest experience tickets to the festival’s July 4th concert and fireworks

Judges

  • Aquil Shakur: guitarist, producer, teacher, and youth empowerment specialist
  • Dave Silver: co-founder and CEO of REC Philly
  • Benjamin Thomas: award winning engineer, producer, and mixer; founder of After5 Studios and co-owner of nicethingsMUSIC
  • Alex Young: founder and publisher of Consequence and Consequence Media

Entries of any style or medium of visual art (ex: painting, ceramics, photography, drawing) can be submitted. Entries must be original in both concept and execution. Please submit a clear and well-lit digital photograph of your work along with a 3-4 sentence artist statement.

Prizes

  • $1,000 cash award
  • Mentor session with Jane Golden
  • Opportunity to display your work at the 2023 Wawa Welcome America Festival
  • Two preferred seating area tickets to the festival’s July 4th concert and fireworks

Judges

  • Jane Golden: artist and Executive Director of Mural Arts Philadelphia
  • Gene Santiago-Holt: multimedia artist and lecturer/instructor at Moore College of Art & Design, Rowan University, and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Prepare investment recommendations for each of three potential clients outlined in the Vanguard-designed case study here. Submit your entry in PDF form. Note that you are not responding individually to each of the five questions at the end of the case study. Rather, use those questions to inform your three recommendations (one for each client). 

Prizes

  • $1,000 cash award
  • Mentor session with Vanguard investment professionals 
  • Two preferred seating area tickets to the festival’s July 4th concert and fireworks

Judges

  • Vanguard investment professionals

Kickoff Event

Let’s get together! New this year, the I Am Philadelphia Kickoff Event will provide an opportunity for students to jumpstart their contest submissions alongside teaching artists and working professionals in each submission category. Find your community of high school creatives and innovators from across the city during an afternoon of collaboration and celebration.

We’re grateful to Harrisburg University Philadelphia (486 North 16th Street) for hosting us on Saturday, January 14th from 11:30am-2pm. Reserve your spot by registering no later than January 10th. Lunch will be provided! 

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