Discover Your Passion- Image

The Michael Perelstein Memorial Scholarship Fund’s Discover Your Passion™ Competition encourages parents, students, teachers and schools to identify and showcase exemplary creativity, intellectual pursuits and talent of school children. The competition also attempts to bring to the foreground the full range of what talent can be – from the academically advanced “how does it work?” student to the kid who loves animals and has the potential to harness that passion to be the next Temple Grandin or Jane Goodall.

The Discover Your Passion™ Competition offers New York City-based students in kindergarten through 8th grade, an opportunity to explore their unique gifts, talents and passions in an area of their choice. The $15,000 Scholarship Fund will be awarded to five children who show exceptional promise in academic fields, sports, music, the arts, social entrepreneurship, technology or other disciplines. The Grand Prize Winner receives $5000 toward the pursuit of his or her choice; 2 Second Place Winners receive $3500, and 2 Third Place Winners receive $1500, for a total of $15,000.  Finalists will be selected from the three categories: Kindergarten-2 grade; 3-5 grade; 6-8th grade.

Support may be provided for any activities identified by the student, from travel, to mentorships, to attendance at relevant programs, or equipment for the specific use of that child toward his or her desired goal.  Use of these funds is not prescribed by the program, but they must be designed to support the child’s passion. For the musically talented child, for example, the award could support lessons with a noted music instructor, or participation in an elite ensemble.

Click here for more information on Criteria, Eligibility and the Submission Process.

About The Michael Perelstein Memorial Scholarship Fund

Michael Perelstein knew about passion.  After all, he married his childhood sweetheart Elizabeth Borowitz in 1979 and the two lived a rich and rewarding life as best friends and soul mates for 33 years. In 1985 their daughter Sarah was born, followed by the birth of their son, Daniel, in 1987.

As a child of Holocaust survivors, Michael was directed by his parents exclusively to consider career choices that prioritized financial security for his family, and this belief was ingrained deeply within his value system.  As a result, he embarked on a highly successful 25-year career in international finance.

A wonderful, loving and supportive father, he worked hard to foster in his children his penchant for financial security.  In a loving way, he encouraged them to pursue practical professions although, as children of great passion, they pursued their own dreams.  He watched them succeed in high school and college, finding ways to create amazing – and financially viable – career paths incorporating their own dreams, which included animal protection, international environmental concerns, music and theater. His initial fears dissipated in his awe of his children’s’ commitment to, and success in, non-traditional fields and he became their staunchest cheerleader.  He read extensively about their interests and traveled anywhere to support them in their many accomplishments. Before Michael’s death at age 56 in March 2012, while cycling, his own personal passion, he donated generously to the causes in which he and his family believed.


“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  ~ Confucius

Supporting the passion and talents of children is the mission of The Michael Perelstein Memorial Scholarship Fund.

The Discover Your Passion Competition is designed to celebrate, encourage and support children as they identify and pursue their passions. Today’s youth, ranging from the economically challenged to those of privilege, often feel pressured by society’s demands to focus at an early age almost exclusively on academic achievement leading to prestigious and financially secure careers.  As Michael learned from his children, and his family learned from his premature death, life is too short to ignore the pursuits that foster joy, good deeds, and ultimately a better world.

Theoretical Basis/ Research

For nearly a century, scholars have sought to understand, measure, and explain giftedness….People may assume that high-ability students will make it on their own, but research shows that talented children in all domains – academic as well as athletic or musical – need to have opportunities that expose them to advanced knowledge, skills, and values in their field of interest. ….Critical experiences, such as mentoring; opportunities for competition, performance, and work …need to be thought of as essential components of the talent-development process and incorporated into the curricula of schools … Community-based institutions … will need to provide some of these critical experiences and work collaboratively with schools to make them accessible to greater numbers of children.

Rethinking Giftedness and Gifted Education: A Proposed Direction Forward Based on Psychological Science

By Rena F. Subotnik, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, and Frank C. Worrell

pursue your passions download





The submitted work must be generated by, and substantive work must be performed entirely by, the student.  Parents may be involved with practical aspects of the project subject to age-appropriate demands.  However, significant parental involvement will disqualify entries.

The following criteria, weighted as indicated below, will be used for the selection of Scholarship Award winners: 30%- quality, process and scope of entry; 30% originality & creativity; 30% depth of knowledge or apparent passion for domain mastery; 10% use of funds to achieve desired goal.


The Discover Your Passion™ Competition is open to elementary and middle school students, including public, private, charter and homeschooled students living within the 5 boroughs of NYC at time of submission.

Scholarships will be judged and awarded to students within three tiered levels – students entering grades K-2; 3-5; and 6-8.

To be eligible for consideration as a Discover Your Passion™ award finalist, applicants must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen residing in the United States, or a Permanent Resident of the United States residing in the United States, or be stationed overseas due to active U. S. military duty.
  • There is no minimum age for eligibility.
  • Obtain consent from a parent or guardian as part of COPPA compliance if applying online.
  • Show a serious dedication and passion to pursue mastery or dive deeper into a strong interest or talent area in order to be considered for The Discover Your Passion Competition.


June 1, 2013– Official Announcement of The Michael Perelstein Memorial Scholarship Fund’s Discover Your Passion™ Competition  & Call for Entries, Application Submission Process Opens

September 3, 2013– Deadline for applications.

September 15 – October 10 – Application review.

October 11- Awardees will be announced.

October 25/26, 2013– Awards will be announced at a public award ceremony at the P.A.L. Gifted and Talented Symposium in NYC. Awardees will be invited to present their project at that event.


Submissions must include these components:

  • Application, to be submitted online or via snail mail. The Application may be downloaded via the P.A.L. Workshops website, SchoolChoice Intl and Discover Your Passion™ webpage.  Download the Application
  • detailed project, portfolio, performance or paper that is considered a significant sample of the student’s work. The work may be submitted for consideration by video, audio, text or photo upload via the competition website. For example, for an entrepreneurial project, students may submit a photo of a product and a Powerpoint slideshow deck, or a text document describing the entrepreneurial venture; An artist or designer may submit a portfolio of their work via photos or link to a YouTube video; A performer may submit a link to a YouTube video of a dance or theater performance; A violin player may submit a a link to a YouTube video performance or upload a piece of music via audio file.
  • one-page essay about the work, detailing: why and how the work was pursued, the challenges that were encountered, a description of why the submission is significant. [See Application, PART 1]
  • description of use of funds if entry is selected. This must include a brief action plan of what the funds would be used for and how that use would improve, support or further the passion, talent or gifts of the recipient. A budget must also be submitted. [See Application, PART 3]
  • 2 Nomination Letters- 1 from a teacher, counselor, principal or other relevant authority; 1 from a parent or other adult who is familiar with the talent or passion area.  [See Nomination Letter.] Download the Nomination Form

Submission Formats

Work must be presented and uploaded in one or more of the following formats:

  • TEXT. Text documents may include writing samples, poetry, and all other text-based bodies of work.
  • AUDIO. Audio may incorporate musical performance and all other audio-based presentations of work but may not exceed 5 minutes in length. This shall serve as a sampling for longer form works.
  • VIDEO. A link to a YouTube video is preferred, though should not exceed 5 minutes in length. This should serve as a sample of the work if the actual work is beyond 5 minutes in length.
  • PHOTO. This may include photographs or other works best represented through photo submission.

* We realize some works may require more than one format for submission. Please use your best judgment for submission purposes.


  • Discover Your Passion Finalists must be able to attend, with at least one parent or guardian, the awards reception and other recognition events to be held in October 2013 in NYC
  • The finalists and winners must agree to have their works on display during the G&T Symposium and related events on October 25 and 26, 2013. The winner also agrees to allow display of winning entry and supporting documentation via the P.A.L. Workshops website, School Choice International and Competition webpage for at least one year or longer.
  • Discover Your Passion Winners must be willing to submit the Competition documentation to include: a Final project produced by the child that details the process description produced by the child, parents and/or school, two financial reports- one interim update on program status and use of funds and one final, Post project assessment exercise.
  • Discover Your Passion entrants must sign a waiver agreeing that the work is their own.
  • Incomplete applications will be disqualified.
  • Each applicant may submit only one application. Applications may be submitted online or via regular/snail mail only. Supporting documents may be submitted within either process. And links to media (performances, film, video, websites, apps, or other formats) also must be included within that format.


Teachers, guidance counselors, music instructors, principals or other adults who are familiar with your work may submit a Nomination Form. Parent or Family members/relatives may serve as Parent/Guardian nominators.

Forms must be submitted before the submission deadline. Two nominators are required. Applications with missing Nominating Forms as of the deadline will be disqualified.


Funds will be administered and monitored by the Discover Your Passion Competition™ Advisory Committee. Judges will identify the competition finalists and decide who will receive the grand prize of $5000, and which two finalists win the $3500 and the two $1500 scholarship awards, for a total of $15,000 in scholarship monies. All applicants will be notified of the judges’ decisions on October 11, 2013.

Administration of Funds

Funds may be used for tuition, programming, instruction, mentoring, etc. and related expenses. Use of funds will be strictly monitored based on original documentation and budget. All monies will be allocated directly to the organization, program or business to which was approved in the application and use of fees summary.

Use of Funds

Each scholarship may be used only for the purpose originally detailed in the application, and related expenses supplied within the budget.

The ADVISORY BOARD shall determine the time and conditions of payment of scholarships at its sole discretion and may specify the documentation required to ensure that the recipient is following an appropriate course of study.

If the Recipient withdraws from the program for which s/he sought funding-  or his or her progress is unsatisfactory and the recipient makes no alternate arrangements to pursue courses at the same or another educational institution – then, at its sole discretion, the ADVISORY BOARD may terminate the scholarship.

Judging Criteria

The criteria for judging entries are:

  • 30%- quality, process and scope of entry (projects will be judged as much by the process as by the finished product);
  • 30% originality & creativity;
  • 30% depth of knowledge/apparent passion for domain mastery;
  • 10% use of funds to achieve desired goal.

Each submission will be examined for completeness and sorted according to categories (K-2; 3-5; 6-8 tiers) before being evaluated by an independent team of judges comprised of professionals with expertise in related domain areas. The team of judges may, at their sole discretion, consult with additional experts to assist in evaluating the merits of each submission.

The independent team of judges, the PYP Jury Committee, will first narrow down entries to the top 5 finalists by tier and then by domain specialty (academics – math, science, language arts; music, fine arts, dance; financial literacy and entrepreneurship; interdisciplinary or other)

The PYP Jury Committee, will make a final selection process OR may elect to poll the public via the P.A.L. Workshops site, School Choice Intl site and the Competition webpage, as well as across social media outlets.

Judges will identify which applicants will be named Awardees and decide who will receive the grand prize of $5000, as well as the $3500 and $1500 scholarship awards, for a total of $15,000 in scholarship monies. All applicants will be notified of the judges’ decisions onOctober 11, 2013.

No one may act as a judge with respect to an application if he or she is related to any applicant, or otherwise feels that he or she might be, or appear to be, biased.

Employees, Trustees (and other immediate family members) of the ADVISORY BOARD; and the Judges (and their immediate family members) are not eligible to apply for or be recognized as an Awardee.

The Discover Your Passion Competition™ Advisory Committee does not discriminate based on race, gender, religion, ethnicity or physical disability. All selection decisions are final.


Jurors will be selected to include 8-10 members from across relevant expertise areas and may include domain experts within media, the fine arts, education, music, dance, theater, sports, entrepreneurship, children’s entertainment and others.

Advisory Board Discretion

Any intellectual property contained within the P.A.L. Workshops/ SchoolChoice Discover Your Passion™ Competition applications remains the property of the applicant.

Discretion of ADVISORY BOARD

Binding Nature of Decisions. By submitting an application, we acknowledge and agree that all decisions of the ADVISORY BOARD regarding the award program and the grant and use of scholarships and other awards may be made by it in its sole and absolute discretion, subject only to compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations. As such, all decisions of the ADVISORY BOARD and its committees and judges shall be final and binding and are not subject to challenge by entrants in any manner. The number of scholarships to be awarded shall be determined by the ADVISORY BOARD in its sole discretion.

Termination and Amendment of Program.

The ADVISORY BOARD reserves the right in its sole discretion to terminate this  program at any time and for any reason and to change any or all of the rules regarding the grant or use of any scholarships. No such termination of the award program shall apply so as to terminate a scholarship winner’s right to an award previously granted unless such termination is required in the reasonable opinion of the ADVISORY BOARD to comply with applicable laws or to assure the ADVISORY BOARD that its tax exempt status will not be affected negatively or unless the continued payment of such scholarship will result in any form of tax being imposed upon the ADVISORY BOARD or any of its affiliates, officers, directors, employees or representatives. In addition, amendments to the program may affect the terms and conditions of use of awards previously granted.



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