General Information

We’re excited to announce The Factual’s first annual scholarship program for media literacy.

The Factual is a technology startup based in San Mateo, California that helps people find the most credible news across the political spectrum. The Factual’s daily email newsletter delivers the most credible stories on trending news topics, with handy summaries to save people time. To determine credibility, The Factual uses an algorithm to automatically evaluate news articles based on author expertise, evidence cited, level of opinionatedness, and site reputation.

We hope that this scholarship program will encourage readers to look critically at the information provided to them and reach their own conclusions.

Writing Prompt

"In the digital age, access to information has broken down countless barriers. However, it has also provided the platform for disinformation to spread, leaving it up to the audience to determine what to believe. What does it mean to you to be 'informed' in 2020?"

Essay Requirements

  • 750 - 1,000 words | Pictures can be included and do not impact word count
  • Essay must be written in English and represent the applicant's original work
  • The applicant must be willing for work to be published in The Factual’s daily newsletter

Eligibility Requirements

  • Two applicant categories:
    • You must be a current high school student (or equivalent) set to graduate in Summer 2020 or after OR
    • You must be a current undergraduate set to graduate after Summer 2020 (any majors can apply)
  • Each applicant can submit one entry for consideration (per year)
  • The applicant must sign up for our newsletter at and follow us on Instagram (thefactualnews) or Twitter (@thefactualnews), where we will be announcing the winner

Prize Information

  • First Place Prize (2 - one high school student, one undergraduate)
    • $750 scholarship (paid in check to the winning applicant)
    • Winners and their schools will be recognized in our daily newsletter
    • Essays will be published on our website
    • Winner will receive The Factual merchandise
  • Honorary mentions
    • Honorary mentions will receive The Factual merchandise
    • Essays will be published on our website

How do I apply

To apply, please submit work at:

When is the deadline?

May 15, 2020 at 9 pm PST. Winners will be notified by June 1, 2020.

How will the essays be judged?

Each submission is read by at least two reviewers. Essays will be evaluated using the following criteria:

Addresses Prompt— The essay effectively and fully addresses the prompt throughout the entirety of the essay.

Focus— The thesis/main message is clear and supported throughout. The essay does not stray from the main message.

Organization & Structure— The essay is organized and well-structured. Author demonstrates command of grammar, spelling and mechanics. The essay has an insightful title and thesis.

Voice/Originality— The essay uses a highly engaging and personal style. The author finds fresh or interesting ways to convey ideas. The author approaches the topic from a unique perspective.

Evidence of Personal Reflection— The essay demonstrates that the author has genuinely explored the topic/question and how it relates to his or her own life.

Terms and Conditions

  1. No purchase necessary
  2. All entries must be the original work of the entrant and must not infringe the rights of any other party. The Factual accepts no responsibility if entrants ignore these terms and conditions and entrants agree to indemnify The Factual against any claim by any third party from any breach of these terms and conditions.
  3. If you are under the age of 18 or are classed as a minor wherever you reside, you must obtain written parental or guardian consent to enter and to claim your prize. The Factual may ask the winner to provide proof of age and/or parental consent.
  4. Applicant agrees to receive newsletters from The Factual along with promotional material.
Questions or Concerns? Please email our contest manager, Kathryn Kelly : kkelly [at]

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Credibility grade based on author expertise, objective tone of writing, extent of references, and analysis of 2 million articles.