Apply for the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award

Financial need should never hold a young musician back.

Since 2005, From the Top and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation have awarded more than $2 million in scholarshipto exceptional young musicians with financial need. In addition to providing these young artists with an opportunity to perform on From the Top’s national broadcasts, recipients are awarded up to $10,000 to help offset the often prohibitively expensive costs of studying classical music at a high level. Each year, From the Top chooses approximately 20 exceptional pre-collegiate musicians ages 8-18 to receive the Award.

Start here:

  1. Read this page of information
  2. Explore our Scholarship FAQs if you have more questions
  3. Use the link at the bottom of the page to apply (you will be taken to an online application)
  4. Still have questions? Send an email to or call 617.437.0707 x123

Who should apply?

Classical instrumentalists, vocalists, and composers (ages 8-18) who have not yet graduated high school.
Applicants must be interested in performing on From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley, and demonstrate (in order of importance):

  • exceptional musical achievement
  • unmet financial need
  • solid academic achievement
  • strength of character.

More on selection criteria

From the Top individually reviews each application using the criteria below to make scholarship decisions. While all these criteria are important, musical achievement and financial need are given the most attention during the application review process.

  • Exceptional musical achievement
    Applicants must have strong musical ability and a willingness to perform on our NPR show. All recipients of the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award must also perform on From the Top and play at the same musical level as other young performers on the show.
  • Unmet financial need
    Applicants must substantiate a limited family income and insufficient funds to cover the cost of new instruments, music lessons, and/or summer music program tuition and travel expenses. While there is no formal cut-off, since program inception, 90% of our past recipients come from families with an annual household Adjusted Gross Income of less than $60,000. We take into consideration: high cost of living in some areas, extraordinary medical expenses, and number of dependents in college. You will have the opportunity to submit information about these special circumstances in the financial section of the application.
  • Academic achievement
    Applicants should possess strong scholastic records indicated by good grades (typically a GPA above 3.0 or mostly A’s and B’s), academic awards, and strong test scores (if available).
  • Strength of character
    Applicants should also possess a combination of drive/determination, initiative, maturity, leadership, an ability to overcome obstacles, and a commitment to giving back to one’s community.

Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award Scholarship Benefits

  • National exposure through a featured radio performance on NPR’s From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley.
  • Up to $10,000 in financial support, which can be applied to instrument purchase, summer music camp expenses, private lessons, and other musical expenses.
  • Participation in From the Top’s Arts Leadership Orientation.
  • Creation and implementation of an Arts Leadership activity. Young Artist Award recipients will be responsible for creating and implementing their activities, but will receive support along the way to ensure successful completion and documentation. Learn more about From the Top’s Arts Leadership Program.

Application deadlines

Students may apply for the scholarship at any time, but applications will be reviewed in three cycles throughout the year according to the below deadlines. All recipients are notified on a rolling admissions basis in accordance with our 2015–2016 taping season.

2015–2016 Deadline I: October 1, 2015 DEADLINE EXTENDED TO OCTOBER 15, 2015
2015–2016 Deadline II: December 15, 2015
2015–2016 Deadline III: February 1, 2016
Note that it is free to apply for the scholarship (there is no application fee).

*Please note that high school seniors must apply by the October 1 October 15 deadline to be eligible.

How to apply

  1. After reading this page and our Scholarship FAQs, visit the link at the bottom of the page to proceed to the online application.
  2. Applicants will be asked to submit at least two unedited, un-enhanced video or audio samples of their music. You will also need to submit copies of tax forms, grade transcripts, and other documents.
  3. The Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award is given in conjunction with a performance on NPR’s From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley. In order to apply for the Young Artist Award indicate that you are applying for either “NPR’s From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley” or “Both” the radio show and Center for the Development of Arts Leaders. On the following page you will select your application type as one of the following: soloist, composer, or small ensemble. You will then be asked if you are applying for the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. Select “yes.”
  4. It is free to apply for the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. There is no application fee.
  5. More detailed application instructions can be found below.

How to apply: Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award


PLEASE NOTE: we have transitioned to a new online application system powered by FluidReview. We will be working through any issues in the application system in the coming months, so please feel free to contact us with questions, issues, or feedback at