Congratulations to the Class of 2019 Uncommon Students!

Jack Anderson, Akron
Lauren Barnes, Dubuque
Ashley Behrendt, Boone
Emma Blair, Ogden
Jaci Childers, Mount Pleasant
Isaac Heilman, Underwood
Seth Hoffman, Muscatine
Isha Kalia, Marion
Mariam Keita , Iowa City
Anna-Britt Lien, Calmar
Peter Limbert, Newell
Alexi Mast, Ankeny
Addison Randall, Letts
Kate Whitson, Central City
Kathryn Wittrock, West Des Moines

2020 Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award

Application Deadline




The Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award is a $10,000 scholarship program for Iowa high school juniors. The program annually identifies and honors up to 15 Iowa high school juniors who propose and then accomplish a project of their own choosing and design. Grades, test scores, essays and financial need are not evaluated.


Each of the 15 finalists will receive a $1,500 cash award at the completion of the program. FOUR of those could earn an additional $10,000 scholarship each, for a total of $11,500! Check the links below to learn more about choosing a project and deadlines.

The next application deadline for the Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award is March 15, 2020. To apply, students must be juniors in an Iowa high school or home schooled program in the spring of 2020, with a high school graduation date of spring, 2021.

Read important links below before applying!

Application Note: Students chosen for the 2020 Uncommon Student Class are required to be at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library-Museum in West Branch, Iowa between 9:30 a.m. Saturday, June 27 until 1 p.m. Sunday, June 28, 2020. Students are required to give a presentation at the library-museum sometime between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday, October 31, 2020. DO NOT APPLY IF YOU CANNOT BE IN WEST BRANCH ON THOSE DAYS.


For more information:

Contact: Delene McConnaha
Call: 319-643-5327

High School Counselor Info:

Download info for School Newsletters/Websites

Download USA Information Brochure

Online Forms:

On-Line USA Application Submission (Recommended) 

On-Line USA Recommendation Submission (Recommended)


Only Iowa high school juniors are eligible to apply.

Application Postmark Deadline:

Deadline for Uncommon Student Award applications is March 15 each year.


Both the Student Application Form and the Recommendation Form are available on-line. Submissions will be confirmed by email.

You cannot save data typed into these forms. Please print your completed form before submitting if you would like a copy for your records. FOUNDATION MEMBERSHIP IS NOT REQUIRED AND HAS NO AFFECT ON THE APPLICATION PROCESS.

It is important and in the best interest of the applicant to view and read the links below before applying! Think of your project as a business plan, in which you tell evaluators what your goal is and how you will get there. Following are the questions you will answer in clearly marked sections of the application. All answers together should equal between 2-4 pages in length. We highly suggest creating a word document and saving it; then cut and paste into the online application. PLEASE CONFIRM RECEIPT OF APPLICATION BY CONTACTING

1. Summary of project and its goals
2. Benefits or importance of project (Why do you want to do this project?)
3. Procedures to be used to complete your project (How are you going to do it?)
4. Mentors you will look to for guidance, if applicable. (You must ask for agreement and note in proposal)
5. Results you expect
6. How would you see your project continuing?
7. How have  you shown your leadership skills during this project?
8. Will you utilize volunteers? How?
9. How your work on this project relates to Herbert Hoover’s expertise as an organizer and leader. (Read about Herbert Hoover before you write this section.)
10. How did you learn of this opportunity?

See the previous award recipients and project descriptions


Words of Wisdom

"To those of you high school juniors who are considering entering this competition, I say go for it. You will be exposed to new people, new students, new situations, and get to learn about a presidential library and museum. You will be challenged, you will probably become frustrated, and there is always the anxiety of who will earn the $5,000 scholarships. But in the end you will have seen a project through to completion and have the extreme pride of a job well done. Set your goals at the highest level–even dream, surround yourself with the most positive people, get as organized as possible, and have a great deal of fun as you work your way through this scholarship program."

Todd Arthur, Captain, United States Air Force - Todd Arthur
 Uncommon Student Award, Class of 1999
 Waterloo West High School, Class of 2000
 United States Air Force Academy, Class of 2004
 Captain, United States Air Force


E-mail from a 2009 USA Parent

"I wanted to let you know that Malea just found out that she is the Iowa high school honoree for the 2010 Prudential Community of Spirit Award. She will receive $1,000 and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC in May. One parent also gets to go, all expenses paid, so I am going, too.

Thank you so much for your guidance through the Hoover Uncommon Student project! It is such a great program for so many reasons. Having the program during the students' junior year and summer before the senior year is SO smart!

They have time to do it then (it would never get done the senior year; it's much too busy with college & scholarship applications) And they get to use it on their resumes, which helps them get other awards and scholarships. Most importantly, though, Malea really did discover the gift of volunteering."

Kelynn Schulte
Mother of Malea Schulte
2009 Hoover Uncommon Student

E-mail from a 2010 USA Parent

" The Herbert Hoover Uncommon Student Award competition is itself uncommon. The vast majority of awards and scholarships presented to high school students are backward-looking: they acknowledge students for things they've already accomplished. The Hoover award, on the other hand, is forward-looking. The program invites Iowa high school juniors to identify a problem, design a solution, and articulate their vision for positive change. The students who are chosen as "Uncommon Students" then work to transform their ideas into actions and tangible results. Several months later, the students are judged on how well they lived up to the promise of their own proposals. To be eligible, a student need not have earned high grades, excelled on any standardized tests or won any previous awards. This competition, grounded in the American dream, levels the playing field: any student with pluck, ingenuity, and drive can win. I highly recommend this program to any student with an exciting idea, a strong work ethic, and a belief that each and every one of us has the potential to positively impact the lives of others."

Linda Mullen Cronk
Mother of Sarah Cronk
2010 Hoover Uncommon Student