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ACF Leadership Blog


Opinions, thoughts and ideas from the leaders of the Arizona Community Foundation, Arizona’s largest statewide philanthropic grantmaker.

ACF scholarship applications open January 1!
Dagoberto Robles, ACF scholarship recipient

A strong scholarship essay can make or break an application. Read through our team’s advice on how to write scholarship essays that stick. We’ve also included a sneak peek of the essay questions for ACF’s 2022 application.

Tips for writing a top-notch scholarship essay

Think before you write

Brainstorming is a beautiful thing! Thinking through ideas or creating an outline of your essay before you begin will help you stay focused when answering essay prompts. 

Be positive, truthful, and descriptive

Scholarship reviewers want to get to know you through your essay, so your writing should sound like you. This is also your chance to tell us what makes you so great--don’t be shy!

Reflect on your life goals and career aspirations

We want to learn more about the goals that a scholarship will help you achieve. You may not have a detailed five-year career plan, and that’s okay! Just make sure to address future ambitions. You could talk about your dream job, your volunteer plans, or even the kind of person you’d like to become. 

Share your unique story

Everyone has a motivation that drives them to achieve their goals--what’s yours? It may be a role model in your life, a formative experience, a social cause you feel passionately about, or something else that makes you, you. Using examples, stories, and descriptive language will help you make a strong impression on readers. If you’re too vague or use generalizations, your reader will likely lose interest. 

Check for spelling errors

You’ve heard it once, and you’ll hear it a hundred more times. Read through your essay carefully for any spelling errors to make sure it looks thoughtful and professional. 

Have a friend or family member read your responses for grammatical errors

Even the most talented editors need a second set of eyes to check their work. Ask someone who you know will give your scholarship essay the time and attention it deserves. 

Scholarship essay questions

Put these tips to the test!

In your online application, you will complete three essay questions. Each essay question has three prompts to choose from, all related to the same theme.

The essay questions for the ACF 2022 scholarship application are below. Read them closely, think through your answers, and jot down your thoughts when you find inspiration! You’ll be ready to go when the application opens. 

Essay question #1 | resilience & persistence

Selects one of the prompts below: (250 words)

  • Talk about a time you failed at something. How did it affect you?
  • What is something about which you have changed your mind in the last three years? Tell us what that experience was like.
  • Describe different ways you seek to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge the world views you hold.

Essay question #2 | future forward & changing the world: 

Selects one of the prompts below: (250 words)

  • What is a community service or extracurricular activity that has meaningful to you?
  • What is one thing every high school student should learn before they graduate?
  • Describe one change you would like to make in your community.

Essay question #3 | creativity & personality:

Selects one of the prompts below: (250 words)

  • Create your own top five list and explain why you chose what you did. (Hint: pick something you love and give your top five- for example, top five memories of your life, top five favorite books, or top five quotes. The more specific your list is, the better.)
  • If you could meet with any person—living or dead—for an hour, who would it be and what would you say to them?
  • Think back to a time when learning was pure joy. Tell us your favorite book you read during your childhood and explain why it’s meaningful to you.

Mark your calendars to apply for scholarships

Set a reminder to start your ACF scholarship application on January 1, 2022 and bookmark the online portal at The online portal contains more than 200 college scholarships available to students. By completing one application, you’ll be automatically matched with available scholarships for which you’re eligible. 

If you have questions about the application, please contact the ACF Scholarship Team.

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