Y-Prize: Ballard Stories

Everyone has a story but some struggle to make it relevant and interesting to others. Through Y-Prize Ballard Stories, we provide a writing workshop and mentoring to help students share their social impact journey and inspire others to live a more meaningful life.

View below to learn more about cash prizes, judging criteria, how to submit your story and more.

Have you participated in Ballard Center class, program, or club that made an impact in your life? Do you want to improve your ability to communicate that experience with others? If so, the Y-Prize Ballard Story Competition offers a writing workshop and coaching to help you gain credibility and power as you share your impact journey.

  • Gain credibility as a social innovator
  • Learn how to harness the power of storytelling
  • Inspire others to start their impact journey
  • Earn awards and recognition

Save the following dates for the Y-Prize: Ballard Story Competition.

  • Thursday, 10 March: Join us for a Story Writing Workshop via Zoom at 7 p.m. Attendees will gain tools to better write their personal stories. This is not mandatory to participate, but it will increase your chances of success.
  • Saturday, 26 March: Story submissions are due Saturday at midnight.
  • Tuesday, 29 March: Top ten finalists are selected and notified.
  • Thursday, 31 March: Finalists are invited to attend an exclusive workshop at 7 p.m. Attendees will:
    • Participate in a complimentary photo shoot
    • Learn voting week logistics and timeline
    • Build a strategy for soliciting votes from friends, family, etc.
  • Monday, 5 April: Voting and judging begins at 5 p.m.
  • Saturday, 9 April: Voting closes at midnight.
  • Monday, April 11: Finalists are notified and announced on social media.

To help you learn the power of storytelling and to give you the structure you need to write an amazing Ballard Story, join us for a writing workshop on Thursday, 10 March. RSVP here. In the writing workshop, we’ll cover the following:

  • Importance of storytelling in social impact
  • How to discover your own, unique Ballard Story (everyone has one!)
  • Three-step writing strategy for engaging with your peers about your impact journey
  • Personalized coaching and/or feedback on your Ballard Story

Judging will be based on the following five criteria:

  1. THROUGH LINE
    1. Include a central theme (it could be “How the social venture academy benefited my life”) that permeates the entire story from beginning to end.
    2. Make sure that each sentence logically links and makes sense with the last sentence. When in doubt, ask friend.
  2. KEEP YOUR MESSAGING SUCCINCT
    1. Keep it short but cover what you need to. Remember:
      1. The final drafts are no more than 500 words.
      2. Eliminate filler words and sentences.
      3. It takes time to shorten messaging. In the words of Mark Twain, “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”
  3. SHOW DON’T TELL
    1. Visually bring the reader into the experience by sharing stories, illustrative words, and examples. Please note, that examples lengthen messaging. That’s okay.
      1. Tell example: Rose is a great event planner.
      2. Show example: Rose is such a great event planner, she received a standing ovation for the work she did planning a conference at Sundance.
  4. EMOTIONS, ENTHUSIASM & VULNERABILITY
    1. These are tools that enhance a reader’s connection to the story. Please keep in mind, thoughts on writing sensitive material by vulnerability expert Brene Brown: “We need to have owned our stories before sharing them is experienced as a gift. A story is only ready to share when the presenter’s healing and growth is not dependent on the audience’s response to it.”
  5. IMPACT
    1. Include impact in your story. What impact has the Ballard Center had on your life? What impact have you had on others as a result of your participation with the Ballard Center?

An individual participating in Y-Prize: Ballard Stories can receive up to $1000. The break down for prizes is as follows:

  • One Judges’ Choice winner will receive $200.
  • One Audience Choice winner will receive $200.
  • Each of the top ten finalists can receive up to $600 for sharing their Ballard story and getting people to vote for it. See below for a breakdown of the award money allocated to the number of votes.
TierNumber of VotesPrizeTotal Prize
Tier 1200 Votes$25$25
Tier 2500 Votes$200$225
Tier 31000 Votes$375$600

What if I don’t have a Ballard Story?

Have you been involved in any way at the Ballard Center? Has that experience had an impact in your life? Then you have a Ballard Story! Remember, these are short, quick stories about one specific program at the Ballard Center, not your whole life story (although we’re sure it’s amazing). Focus on one, specific experience and write about it!

How should I write my Ballard Story?

Your Ballard Story is unique to you! Being authentic is more important than having solid form; however, the following is a structure that has worked well for students in the past:

What’s your Ballard Story? In 500 words or less tell us:

1st Paragraph: What happened in your life that made you interested in a certain social issue? Be sure that this paragraph connects with the next two. We suggest writing this paragraph last.

2nd Paragraph: What program did you get involved in at the Ballard Center? What did you do? (Focus on only one program)

3rd Paragraph: What impact did that program have on your life?

Does my story need to be perfectly polished when I submit it?

No. For your story to be considered as one of the finalists, we are looking mainly for good ideas and meeting all the points outlined in the “judging criteria.” Stories selected as finalists undergo strict editing and polishing by our communications team before being published on the website. Don’t let a fear of writing perfectly stop you from submitting a story!

Where do I submit my story?

Submit your story at ballard.byu.edu/stories

Questions? Please contact ballardnews@byu.edu.

When is the deadline to submit?

The deadline to submit your Ballard Story is Saturday, 26 March midnight.

Where can I read past entries and winning stories?

Past finalists, winners, and other stories can be found at ballard.byu.edu/stories and ballardlove.byu.edu.

How do I get people to vote for my story?

If you are selected as one of the five finalists, you will have access to an exclusive writing workshop on Thursday, 1 April 7:00 p.m. There, we will help you develop a strategy to solicit votes from family, friends, etc. The Ballard Center will also encourage voting during voting week. 

Do I have to provide my own photo for my story cover?

No. A complimentary photo shoot for finalists will take place before voting begins. However, if you already have a photo that communicates your story, you can work with the Ballard Center’s communications team for approval to use your photo.

How is my story used?

Finalists’ stories are published on the Ballard Center’s website on the “Meet the Students” page Stories may also be used in the future for Ballard Center articles, social media posts, newsletters, student highlights, and more.