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General Contest FAQ

What is the purpose behind the North South Foundation contests?

North South Foundation (NSF) encourages excellence in education among the children of Indian-American community in the US and Canada by conducting educational contests. NSF also encourages excellence in education among the poor in India by providing college scholarships. NSF believes that every child can excel given an opportunity.

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How long has the Foundation been in existence?

The Foundation was established as a non-profit organization in 1989. Since inception, NSF has provided more than 3,100 scholarships in India. Since 1993, NSF has been conducting contests in the US. Thousands of families across the US and Canada participate in the NSF contests every year. All contributions to NSF are tax-deductible.

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Is NSF doing a talent search by conducting contests?

No. The goal of the Foundation is to help every participating child. The focus is on learning and not on ranking. We also encourage learning the basics in a structured way. We believe that this is a better approach than learning by sheer memorization. In the NSF contests, every child is recognized as a winner. NSF believes that every child can improve his or her skills over time through practice and hard work. NSF has seen enough evidence to demonstrate that an average child can rise to the top given the right motivation and opportunity.

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Don’t the contests lead to de-motivation among the children who do not win?

No. There are only a few who get ranked. That is the nature of all contests. We give participation medals and certificates to all contestants to recognize that everyone is a winner by participation.

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So why do we have Contests?

A contest provides an incentive and a goal to work towards within a specific time-frame. Second, a child needs to learn to accept failure, just like in any sport. Both success and failure are an integral part of life. Failure gives an opportunity to learn from mistakes and do better next time. Even Thomas Edison had more failures than successes. In reality, the real contest is whether a child is improving over time or not. For example, even if a child learns one word a day, that is 365 words in a year.

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When and how frequently are the bees conducted?

The bees are conducted once a year, at two levels. First, the bees are conducted at the regional level in more than 60 NSF centers in the US and Canada during March-April. Based on a national cut-off score for each contest, the top scorers (who meet this cut-off score) from all centers are invited to participate in the NSF National Finals event during August-September.

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Who can participate in the NSF contests?

In general, the contests are open to all children of the Indian-American community in grades 1 through 12, residing in the US or Canada. You should consult the section on contest specific rules, which apply to the contest you are interested in. The NSF contests are conducted as a community event among the Indian-American families. They are all run by volunteers without any compensation. Because of the limited resources, the contests are limited to catering to the special needs of the NRI community.

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Can my child who is in kindergarten (KG) participate in the contests?

Yes. Your child in KG can participate in any contests that start with grade 1 on an equal basis without any special privileges. You should bring your child into the contest with the aim of getting him/her acquainted with the bee. Learning can start at any age.

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How are the contests conducted?

See the "Rules" section for each contest under the Regional Contests page to see the details on the specific contest you are interested in.

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How do I prepare for the contest?

See the "Preparation" section for each contest under the Regional Contests page to see the preparation tips for the contest you are interested in.

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How do I get information on contest date and time?

Contest date and time will differ from center to center. Look for updates in the contest calendar, which will give you the latest information specific to each center. You may also receive emails from the organizing team from your local chapter.

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Why are the registration fees high?

The registration fees are in the $15-30 range. They are not high when you compare with fees charged with other competitions such as chess tournaments. Further, 2/3 rd of the registration fees are tax-deductible contributions, which are used to fund noble causes like awarding college scholarships to the poor, but meritorious, children in India.Also, part of the fee contributes to Scholarships here.

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If my child decides not to participate in the contest, can I get a refund of the registration fees paid?

No. The fees are not refundable, but they can be treated as tax-deductible donation in full to the North South Foundation in case your child cannot participate in the contest for any reason. If the donation is more than $50, you can request for access to a game, spelling or vocabulary, for one year for one child.

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My children want to participate in multiple contests. Can I get a discount? I cannot afford to pay for all of them.

No. Given the limited volunteer resources, NSF is not in a position to handle discounts. NSF does recognize that some families might find it difficult to pay for multiple contests and/or for multiple children. NSF strongly believes that a child should never be denied to participate in a contest for lack of funds. If a family has hardship in paying the fees, NSF is prepared to reduce or waive the fees on a case by case basis. If applicable, please send an email to nsfcontests@gmail.com with a detailed explanation.

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How can I register for the NSF contests?

NSF supports on-line registration for various contests. The on-line registration generally begins during the early part of January. Please visit www.northsouth.org for the latest information.

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Are all NSF contests available at all centers?

Not necessarily. The contest offerings in a Chapter can vary depending on the resources available. Consult the contest calendar on-line or contact your chapter coordinator for the specific contests being offered at your location.

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How are the winners recognized?

At the regional level, all participating children will be awarded medals and certificates of participation. In addition, winners get certificates of excellence and rank medals.

Participation in the NSF National Finals event is only by invitation. This invitation is based on a national cut-off score determined from the pool of all regional scores. There will not be a contest at the national level, if the cut-off score as well as the number of children, is below the pre-defined limits.

At the NSF National Finals event, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners will be awarded $1000, $500 and $250 in scholarships, respectively. In addition, the foundation recognizes the top ten rank holders in each contest based on the number of finalists. There are no monetary awards for the Brain Bee. All scholarships are redeemable during the winner’s freshman year of college.

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When and how do I redeem the scholarship I earned from North South Foundation?

Your scholarship is redeemable during the freshman year when you enter college. North South Foundation makes payment to the college where you are enrolled. The payment is made against an invoice for your tuition fees as long as the outstanding balance is more than the scholarship amount you earned. If you have already paid for the current semester, you can wait for the next semester. When you are eligible to redeem, please send to the NSF Office a copy of the invoice along with a letter with the following details:

  1. Your personal details including full name, address, email and phone number
  2. Details of the event when and where you earned the scholarship (year, location, contest, rank, etc.)
  3. College address where the payment is to be mailed

The address of the NSF Office is posted on the home page of this website. If a child wins multiple NSF scholarships, there is a life-time cap of $3,000 for each child. There is also cap of $1,000 on each contest.

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