Application Process and Deadlines

How do I submit my supporting documents and when are they due?

All documents are required to be uploaded into your Common App according to the directions in the application. If you do not follow the instructions, your application may not be considered. The application – including the Common App general questions, all Jack Kent Cooke specific questions, and all required supporting documents – must be submitted by the application deadline of November 20, 2018.

What does the application process involve?

The Cooke Young Scholars Program application requirements will include:

  • Student Application, including demographic information about you and your family, academic information such as your grades and standardized test scores, short and long essays, activities and awards, and uploaded report cards and test score reports.
  • Parent Form, including information about your parent(s)/guardian(s)and other household members, as well as financial information and uploads of recent federal tax return forms.
  • Three Recommendation Forms:
    • English/Language Arts Teacher Recommendation to be completed by your 6th or 7th grade English/Language Arts teacher
    • Math Teacher Recommendation to be completed by your 6th or 7th grade Mathematics teacher
    • Personal Recommendation to be completed by a coach, mentor, etc.

When will the recommender know that it is time to submit the recommendation?

Recommenders will receive an email with instructions after you enter his/her email address into your application and save the page.

The email message will provide a link to the online form. It is your responsibility to monitor the status of your application and to follow up with your recommenders to be sure they have received the instructions and completed their online forms.

How does the recommender submit a recommendation?

When your recommender has completed the form and is ready to submit, they will click the “Submit” button and a message will appear requesting confirmation that the form is ready to submit. When they clicks “Yes”, a confirmation screen will appear to verify the form has been submitted. The recommender will also receive an email confirmation.

How long does the recommender have to submit their recommendation form?

The recommenders have until the application deadline to submit the recommendation form. We encourage applicants to monitor the status of their application and communicate with their recommenders to make sure they successfully submit the form on time.

Can my recommender submit a letter of recommendation instead of or in addition to completing the online form?

No, the only acceptable recommendation for this application is the online form. Letters of recommendation will not be accepted in lieu of or in addition to the online form.

What happens if an application is incomplete or is submitted after the deadline?

Applications are completed online via the Common Application and must meet the deadlines established by the Cooke Foundation. Incomplete applications and those submitted after the deadline will not be considered.

I missed the deadline. Can I still apply?

Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.

Do I have to finish my application all at once, or can I save it and come back later?

You will be able to work on your application until the deadline. You will be able to return to the application to update and edit as frequently as desired until you submit your application or the application deadline has passed.

I forgot my User ID or password.

On the Log In/Register page, click the “Forgot your password?” link. To reset your password, enter the email address associated with your account and click the “Submit” button. You will receive an email with a link to reset your password.

If you need additional help, email us or call 800-941-3300.

How do I change my password or Username?

If you would like to reset your Password, go to the Log In/Register page, click the “Log in/Password Help” link, and follow the online instructions.

I am locked out of my account. What do I do now?

After five failed attempts to log in, you will receive an onscreen message that your account has been locked. You will also receive an email with instructions on how to either unlock your account or change your password.

How do I properly log out?

Always click the “Save” button, found at the bottom of every page of the application, before you log out. When you are ready to log out and exit your account, use the “Sign Out” link in the upper right corner. You will be able to return to the application to update and edit as frequently as desired until you submit your application or the application deadline has passed.

Who do I contact with questions regarding the scholarship application process?

All technical questions (e.g. passwords, uploading documents, inviting recommenders) should be directed to the Common App support desk at https://www.commonapp.org/help-center or using the Chat feature while you are logged into your application.

All program questions about the Cooke Foundation program (eligibility, funding, program structure) should be directed to the Cooke Foundation Help Desk via email to scholarships@jkcf.org or call 800-941-3300.

What are the key dates in the application process?

A link to the online application will be posted on the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation website. Click here to receive an automatic alert when the application opens.

Application period closes.

April – August
Application review is conducted; review may include telephone interviews with applicants.

New cohort of Cooke Young Scholars selected in their 8th grade year. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation notifies all non-recipients by email. Recipients will receive a phone call.

How do I obtain application materials?

In January, the online application for the Young Scholars Program will be posted on the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation website.

If you do not have internet access, contact the regional talent center that conducts outreach in your state for assistance.

East and West Coast states
Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth (CTY)
Bridgette McIntyre
(410) 735-6270 or jkcinfo@jhu.edu

Southern states
Duke University Talent Identification Program (TIP)
Devin Patterson
(919) 668-9100 or jkcf@tip.duke.edu, dpatterson@tip.duke.edu

Midwestern states
Northwestern University Center for Talent Development (CTD)
Tammie Stewart
(847) 491-3782 or tammie-stewart@northwestern.edu

Rocky Mountain states
Center for Bright Kids (CBK)
(303) 428-2634 or cbk@centerforbrightkids.org

What is the role of the Talent Centers?

The Cooke Foundation collaborates with regional talent centers to conduct outreach and recruitment for the Young Scholars Program and also provide avenues for above-level testing. While applicants are not required to be talent center program participants in order to apply to the Young Scholars Program, it is strongly encouraged for applicants to enroll in the talent search with their regional talent center. More information can be found here.

If you have questions about applying to the Young Scholars Program, you can contact the talent center affiliated with your state and the outreach staff at the center will assist you with your questions.

Selection Process

What are the selection criteria?

The Cooke Foundation reviews each application individually with the assistance of a panel of education experts. The foundation selects Cooke Young Scholars using the criteria below. While all criteria are important, the foundation pays particular attention to the first two.

  • High academic ability and achievement: Strong academic record, academic awards and honors, and substantive assessments by educators providing confidential letters of recommendation. We consider grades (typically mostly A’s), achievement test scores, participation in available honors or advanced courses, commitment to learning, and work ethic.
  • Financial need: Your family income does not exceed $95,000.The average family income of entering Cooke Young Scholars is approximately $25,000. In recent years nearly all Cooke Young Scholars have come from families with incomes below $60,000.
  • Persistence: Determination and perseverance in the face of challenges, ability to set and remain focused on goals and to put in the effort needed to meet those goals in the face of obstacles.
  • Leadership: Able to positively influence others and take initiative in various circumstances (family, community, school, church, etc.).
  • Service to others: Purposeful and meaningful commitment to others which may be evidenced by participation in volunteer/community service activities.

How many Cooke Young Scholars are selected?

In fall 2018, 50 Cooke Young Scholars will be selected for the 18th Cohort. The number of scholars each year varies.

Am I eligible to apply?

To be eligible for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars Program, the applicant must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Grade level – Entering 8th grade in the fall of 2018.
  • Academics – Since the beginning of 6th grade, have earned grades of all or mostly As in school with no C’s or below in core academic subjects (English/language arts, math, science, social studies/history).*
  • Testing – The official score report from the applicant’s state standardized testing. If the applicant has taken the SAT or ACT through a regional talent center, they should also submit their score reports.
  • Income – Family income does not exceed $95,000. The average family income of entering Cooke Young Scholars is approximately $25,000. In recent years nearly all Cooke Young Scholars have come from families with incomes below $60,000.
  • Location – Reside in the U.S. or a U.S. territory and plan to attend high school in the U.S.

When and how are the scholarship winners announced?

All applicants, whether selected for the scholarship or not, are notified by email in the fall. Recipients’ names will not be published on the Cooke Foundation’s website.

What the Scholarship Covers

What opportunities and support do Cooke Young Scholars receive?

The Young Scholars Program provides scholars with educational and college advising as well as financial support for academic and extracurricular enrichment from 8th grade through high school.

Beginning in 8th grade, Cooke Young Scholars:

  • Participate in high-quality academic and extracurricular opportunities in their local community, on college campuses, and around the globe.
  • Develop the knowledge, talents, and leadership skills to be significant contributors.
  • Set and reach academic and talent goals that will prepare them to be competitive, well-informed applicants for our nation’s best colleges and universities.

Each receives a unique combination of opportunities that may include:

  • Guidance in selecting a high school and, if necessary, support in applying to a private or magnet high school.
  • Summer academic or enrichment programs.
  • Computers, software, or other learning technology.
  • Specialized support in music, art, science, math, or other subjects.
  • Connection with a nationwide community of Cooke Young Scholars
  • Resources for career exploration and mentorship.
  • College advising and counseling.

As a Cooke Young Scholar, what is expected of me?

The foundation expects each Cooke Young Scholar and their family to communicate at least once every two weeks and work closely with their designated educational adviser to develop and follow an annual Individual Learning Plan (ILP).

  • The foundation also expects each Young Scholar to think big, work hard, and:
  • Maintain a strong academic record (As and Bs in an unweighted GPA calculation) while taking an appropriately challenging course load.
  • Act with honesty and personal integrity.
  • Demonstrate character and leadership.
  • Be concerned about and engaged in their community.
  • Maintain a good disciplinary record.
  • Participate in residential summer enrichment opportunities.
  • Follow through with the opportunities and services outlined in their ILP.
  • Do their best to take the action steps that lead to achieving their ILP goals.
  • Attend Welcome Weekend and First Summer experience with fellow cohort students during the summer before 9th grade.
  • Attend a summer experience focusing on college search and readiness during the summer before 12th grade.
    Work cooperatively with foundation staff.

These responsibilities are outlined in a letter of commitment included in the award packet, signed by the Cooke Young Scholar and the scholar’s parent(s) or guardian(s). Families and Cooke Young Scholars discuss program expectations in depth with the educational adviser prior to signing.

As a parent/guardian of a Young Scholar, what is expected of me?

We expect parent(s)/guardian(s) of Cooke Young Scholars to partner and communicate regularly with their educational advisers. Together, we build a strong support network and help Cooke Young Scholars think big, work hard, and achieve.

What does working with a foundation educational adviser involve?

The foundation matches an on-staff educational adviser (EA) with each Cooke Young Scholar. The EA collaborates with scholars and their families during the middle and high school years, to provide academic guidance, assess needs and opportunities, identify resources, and determine the foundation’s support. Young Scholars and their families are expected to communicate at least every two weeks with their educational advisers by phone, email, or via Skype. Each educational adviser conducts home and school visits to each Young Scholar.

The EA plays four different roles: guide, advocate, coach, and tailor.

As a guide, the EA helps each Cooke Young Scholar:

  • Select a high school
  • Plan an appropriately challenging four-year academic course load
  • Discover new educational resources
  • Research enrichment opportunities
  • Prepare for and complete the college admissions process
  • As an advocate, the EA:
  • Conducts home and school visits
  • Collaborates with educators, coaches, mentors, and other key adults to help support the scholar’s learning
  • Helps make educational decisions

As a coach, the EA helps each Cooke Young Scholar:

  • Develop strengths and skills
  • Address academic challenges as they arise
  • Stretch outside of their comfort zone
  • Set yearly academic and extracurricular goals

As a tailor, the EA helps each Cooke Young Scholar:

  • Construct a yearly Individualized Learning Plan (ILP)
  • Understand how ILP opportunities complement one another
  • Achieve academic and extracurricular goals
  • Select summer experiences that enhance growth and learning

What is an Individual Learning Plan (ILP)?

Created to help each Cooke Young Scholar meet their academic and extracurricular goals, an Individualized Learning Plan (ILP) is a map of the annual educational opportunities funded by the foundation.

ILPs are designed to help scholars develop and nurture academic skills, explore passions and interests, and stretch outside of their comfort zone.

Cooke Young Scholars experience opportunities that may include:

  • Residential summer programs
  • School expenses
  • Fine music, art, or athletic lessons and supplies
  • Books and magazines
  • Software and technology
  • Distance learning courses
  • Internships
  • Conferences
  • Travel opportunities

Who decides what is included in a Young Scholar's ILP?

The foundation educational adviser works closely with the scholar, their family, and others to understand the abilities, talents, dreams, and goals of each Cooke Young Scholar. Educational advisers then develop individualized recommendations that can move the scholar toward those goals. Family input is carefully considered, and parent(s) or guardian(s) always have the right to decline any recommendation. The Young Scholars Program’s director and other staff work directly with the educational adviser to assure that a realistic, balanced plan is presented to the scholar and family.

How can I use the scholarship?

While Cooke Young Scholars are selected in the 8th grade, funding for services does not begin until the summer before 9th grade. Successful Cooke Young Scholars use the scholarship to nurture academic skills, explore passions and interests, and stretch outside of their comfort zone. Cooke Young Scholars also make the most of their relationship with their educational adviser to learn how to set goals, make educational decisions, maximize opportunities, succeed in high school and prepare for college.

Does the Young Scholars Program primarily provide boarding school scholarships?

No, the primary purpose of the program is to find challenging educational experiences for high school students. In only some cases does this include support for private boarding school. Educational advisers work with Cooke Young Scholars and their families to determine the suitability of their local public or magnet schools. Where suitable local school opportunities are available, scholarship funds will be used to enhance local educational opportunities through distance learning courses, summer programs, and other services.

How long will scholarship support continue?

The Young Scholars Program is a unique scholarship program that is designed to support students from 8th grade through senior year of high school. Each school year, the foundation evaluates Cooke Young Scholars through a renewal process. Assuming program expectations are met by the scholar and family, the scholarship support continues through senior year of high school.

Are there any mandatory requirements?

During the summer before 9th grade, Cooke Young Scholars are required to participate in a foundation-sponsored Young Scholars Welcome Weekend and First Summer experience. In the summer before 12th grade, Cooke Young Scholars participate with their fellow Cohort (students admitted in the same year) in a program focusing on college search and readiness on a college campus.

Cooke Young Scholars are expected to communicate and work closely with their designated foundation educational adviser. Cooke Young Scholars also participate in summer enrichment programs, which include residential placement away from home.


Who was Jack Kent Cooke?

Mr. Cooke was a philanthropist, businessman, and devotee of learning and the arts who left the bulk of his estate to establish the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation to help students of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education.

Contact Us

The 2018 Young Scholars Program application is now closed. Final notifications were sent via email on September 10, 2018. If you have not received a notification email, please check your spam filters. If you still have not received notification, please contact us at 800-941-3300 or email scholarships@jkcf.org.

The 2019 Young Scholars Program application will open in January 2019.