Press Releases

West Virginia State Treasurer John Perdue presented a $500 check to Geary Elementary School today in recognition of the school having a winner in the 2020 SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest. 

In addition to the school receiving a $500 cash prize, grand prize winner Piper Carmen received $5,000 invested in a SMART529 account. Carmen, who is now in second grade, wrote about becoming a nurse when she grows up. She was randomly selected as the grand prize winner during a live ceremony on the WV Treasury Facebook page earlier this month.

Carmen was selected for the grand prize out of 15 regional winners. The other 14 regional winners each received $500 invested in a SMART529 account. This year’s 15 regional winners were selected from more than 4,600 essays, a record-breaking number of entries.

“Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s contest,” said Treasurer Perdue. “I am thrilled that even with the pandemic, we are able to find ways to recognize these students for their achievements. We hope this contest encourages them to look to the future and know higher education is within reach.”

In its thirteenth year, the SMART529 “When I Grow Up” essay contest gives kindergarten through fifth grade students a chance to share in $12,000 in SMART529 savings for higher education. Essays from three age groups (grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5) were judged in each of the five regions, for a total of 15 winners.

Typically, Treasurer Perdue recognizes the “When I Grow Up” regional winners at an awards ceremony at the West Virginia State Culture Center. The award ceremony in Charleston was canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The “When I Grow Up” essay contest is sponsored by SMART529, Hartford Funds and the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office to promote awareness of SMART529 and the need for higher education savings.

To see a recording of the Facebook Live event visit or go to for more information.

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