Pay it ForwardThe Pay it Forward contest is open to any college student attending Clemson University, South Carolina State University or the University of South Carolina. Students may work individually or in teams. Teams may have a maximum of four members.

Registration begins in November. Students can register here

After registering, students will receive an email including information about how to upload finished videos and directions for the required paper, video, and photographs, as well as a release allowing ECSC to share any materials submitted.

On the website, there is a list of suggested topics, but students may choose other topics if they prefer.

Participants must submit a short paper of 5-10 pages, create a video that is 5-8 minutes long to complement the paper, and take at least five high quality still photographs that may be published in South Carolina Living magazine, the co-ops’ monthly magazine distributed to more than 600,000 homes and businesses. A sample paper is posted to give participating college students a sense of proper length and formatting.

  • In both the paper and video, participants should identify and include viable sources of funding for their proposed solution(s) and any other resources that will be required to make them work.
  • Video and still photos (5) with captions should be as polished and creative as possible.
  • Paper should be in MLA format.
  • Paper and video – extra effort and depth of research will count when entries are evaluated by the independent panel of judges.

E.g. – If one or more grants are identified as possible funding sources for a proposed solution, participants should research and include the funders’ requirements and details about the grant-writing and submission process so those details and explanations may be of use if the solution is adopted and implemented in a rural community.

2023-2024 Contest Timeline

November 8, 2023

  • Competition begins; online registration opens to students at participating colleges

February 9, 2024

  • Registration closes

March 29, 2024

  • Final submissions due 

April 15, 2024

  • Winning students and/or teams announced at each participating college ($1,000 for each member of the winning team and $500 for the winning team's faculty advisor)

Click below to view the judging rubric