Uncommon Student Award Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Hoover Uncommon Student Award?

The $5,000 scholarship program identifies and honors up to 15 Iowa high school juniors who propose and then accomplish a project of their own choosing and design.

The award honors Iowa native and 31st president Herbert Hoover. The name is taken from his “On the Uncommon Man” speech.

Who is eligible to apply?

Current Juniors in an Iowa high school or home school program. Children or grandchildren of a staff member or trustee of the Hoover Presidential Foundation, Hoover Presidential Library and Museum or National Historic Site are not eligible to apply. More than one student can apply from any high school.

When do I apply?

The online application is available now. The deadline is March 15 during your high school junior year.

How do I get an application brochure?

Send an e-mail request to info@HooverPF.org or call 319-643-5327 to request a brochure, or check with your school counselor. Download a brochure.

Can I apply online?

Yes. You must submit your application on-line.

What are the application requirements?


  • Application – includes your name, address and school information
  • Project Proposal – a brief description of your project goals
  • 2-4 page project proposal/plan
  • Two letters of recommendation (form available on-line)

What kind of projects are you looking for in the application?

The Hoover Uncommon Student Award is driven completely by student interest. Think of something which captures your attention and like to do. Brainstorm how to make that into a project: Something outdoors; community or school need; technology; international need. Past projects have made an impact in some way.

From a former participant: “Look around you. Explore your interests or seek what needs to change. The project can be anything you are interested in. Think Big!”. Uncommon Student Project

What should I put in the 2 to 4 page project proposal?

From a former participant: “Make sure you will be able to complete your project if you are chosen. Be as detailed and specific as possible . . . the application is where you sell the project. You also will need to relate it to the skills of Herbert Hoover. Paint the selection committee a picture of your idea. They see multiple applications and you need to make yours stand out and be memorable.

The applicant’s responsibility is to show evaluators that enough plans are in place to be successful in completing the project.

Uncommon Student Project Proposal
Writing a project proposal:
> Clearly state the project goal and how you will reach it.
> Answer these questions in your proposal: Why? Who? What? Where? When? How?
> Write the proposal in words you know. Keep it clear and simple. Define any specialized vocabulary.
> Get necessary permissions BEFORE submitting the proposal. Avoid: “If I get permission, I will . . . ” Evaluators need to see a reasonable chance of success.
> Ask an adult unfamiliar with your idea to read your proposal. He/she can tell you if there are details missing. Then improve your proposal before submitting it.

Do I need to finish the project by March 15?

No. You propose the project by March 15 stating your goals and how you will reach them. You will work on and complete your project over the summer and early fall.

What if I have already done a project?

Base your proposal on what you have already accomplished; use that as a beginning, and take your work to another level. If you are accepted into this program, you must have something to work on between April and October of the application year.

Can my project continue after I have graduated from high school?

Some projects lend themselves to a final completion; some do not. If your project can logically continue, plan for it to do so after you are no longer involved, and put that information in the proposal. This is seen as a positive indicator by evaluators.

Is my idea a good fit for this program?

Ask Tiffany Frederick at 319-643-5327 or send an e-mail to TFrederick@hooverPF.org.

Do the two people who write letters of recommendation give the letters to me or send them to the Hoover Presidential Foundaiton?

They complete an online form found on the Uncommon Student web page (UncommonStudent.org) by March 15.

When do I find out if I’m accepted into the program?

You will receive a letter via Email by May 12 informing you whether or not you were selected as a finalist. Please check your SPAM folder.

Should I apply if I know I will not be available for the required June weekend?

No. The June weekend is a required weekend. No exceptions!!!

Uncommon Students are also required to attend the October presentation day at the Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in West Branch.

What is this June weekend about?

This is a casual weekend for uncommon students to meet each other and learn about Herbert Hoover. The weekend starts about 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and ends with a picnic lunch at about 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. A specific schedule is sent after uncommon students sign their agreements to participate. Students stay overnight in a hotel near Iowa City. There is no cost to the students. Parents are invited to lunch on Saturday and Sunday and to participate in museum and historic site tours. They are also invited to the banquet on Saturday evening (for a fee). The program only pays for hotel rooms for the students. Parents are asked to stay at a different hotel from the students. Weekend at West Branch

What happens on the required October Presentation Day?

Uncommon students make a presentation (up to 12 minutes) about their projects. The day starts at 9:00 a.m. and ends about 4:30 p.m. Students are only required to be here for their own presentations. They are not required to stay for the whole day, however, we encourage it. All cash awards and certificates are presented at the conclusion of the presentations. Students will be given an opportunity to request a first and second choice for presentation time, but requests are not guaranteed.

How are scholarship winners chosen?

After all presentations are given, each student receives a check for $1,500 at the October presentation day. A committee of distinguished Iowans listens to all presentations and chooses three students to receive $10,000 scholarships to be used at an accredited two or four year college/university. The money is paid directly to the institution; $5,000 the freshman year and $5,000 the sophomore year.

How is the scholarship money paid out?

The money is paid directly to the institution, $5,000 the freshman year and $5,000 the sophomore year.

Who sponsors this program?

The Hoover Presidential Foundation, a nonprofit support group for the Hoover Presidential Library-Museum and National Historic Site in West Branch, Iowa.

Who was Herbert Hoover?

Herbert Hoover, born in West Branch, Iowa, was our nation’s 31st president, from 1929-1933. He was known for a number of accomplishments, ranging from the development of mines to humanitarian efforts in flood relief and in feeding millions of people during and after both world wars.

He had the talent to spot a problem, devise a possible solution, organize others to help carry out the needed tasks, monitor the results, and make changes as needed. In their own projects, Hoover Uncommon Students demonstrate skills and talents similar to those of Herbert Hoover.

How Does the Program Work?

  • Juniors submit their applications online by March 15. Grades, test scores, essays and financial need are not evaluated.
  • Approximately 15 students are chosen based on a project proposal and two letters of recommendation.
  • Notification letters are emailed to all applicants by May 12.
  • Finalists spend a required expense-paid weekend in West Branch (just east of Iowa City) in June.
  • Finalists return in October to make presentations about their project (maximum of 12 minutes) at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library.
  • Each student receives $1,500 at the conclusion of the presentations.
  • A committee of distinguished Iowans listens to the presentations and chooses three students to receive a $10,000 scholarship award for study at an accredited two or four year college/university anywhere in the country.