MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) – The 2023 SMART529 “When I Grow Up” student and teacher essay contest will be making its return to the schools of West Virginia.

State Treasurer Riley Moore announced the annual essay contest on Tuesday at Potomack Intermediate School in Martinsburg.

Students divided into three age groups based on grade level (K-1, 2-3, 4-5) across five regions can win up to $5,000 in SMART529 savings for higher education, while teachers stand to win a $2,500 cash prize, according to a release from the State Treasurer’s office.

With a deadline of February 24, 2023, the contest will have students submit a 100-word or less essay about what they want to be when they grow up. “Entries will be judged on originality, creativity and the importance of post-secondary education,” the release said.

“It’s critical for children to start thinking about their future careers as early as possible,” Treasurer Moore said. “The annual SMART529 When I Grow Up essay contest gives students an opportunity to explore potential job pathways and understand how they can achieve their dreams through post-secondary education, whether that is attending college or a trade school.”

The regions are:

  • Region I – Beckley/Bluefield area
  • Region II – Charleston/Huntington area
  • Region III – Clarksburg/Weston area
  • Region IV – Martinsburg area
  • Region V – Wheeling area

According to the release, “the 15 winners will be awarded $500 invested into SMART529 college savings accounts,” and one randomly selected grand prize winner will receive $5,000 in SMART529 scholarship money. Meanwhile, the school of each winner will also receive a $500 cash award.

Entry forms can be found at various W.Va. elementary schools as well as online at, where you can learn more about the contest.