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RSVBee invitational returns for 2020 Scripps National Spelling Bee

Program narrows field of competitors and provides financial aid
Posted at 8:17 AM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-10 10:17:45-05

Students across the country are spelling their way to greatness in the Scripps National Spelling Bee program. Students are in the process of advancing from classroom to school to region to earn a spot in the national finals in National Harbor, Maryland, in May 2020.

Spellers who win their school spelling bee but don’t advance past their region can keep their dream alive of competing in the national spotlight. For the third year in a row, the Bee is offering its RSVBee program. It is a participation pathway that qualifies more spellers for the national finals. It is the only way students living in unsponsored regions can advance and is an additional opportunity for the best spellers in the country to compete on the national stage.

The Bee created RSVBee with an eye toward fairness, accessibility, maintaining the integrity of the competition and delivering a quality Bee Week experience for all. The Scripps National Spelling Bee has more than 250 sponsors across the country who support the program and make it possible for local students to advance. Still, there are unsponsored sections in the U.S., and some of its sponsored regions have grown so large and competitive that RSVBee is the Bee’s answer to address access and fairness.

“We’ve known for many years that large numbers of excellent spellers have had limited access to the national finals or no pathway at all,” said Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. “We created RSVBee to address this very issue and make our iconic competition accessible to a wider population of children who love words and language and enjoy competitive spelling.”

The Bee is narrowing the field of the national finals to about 400 competitors, down from last year’s 562, with the intent of providing spellers and their families with a more personalized, quality experience during Bee Week.

Parents can apply on behalf of their child for one of about 140 total RSVBee invitations at beginning Feb. 11, 2020. The deadline to submit the online form is March 29. To be eligible, students must:

· Attend a school (or home school) enrolled in the Scripps National Spelling Bee
· Be in seventh or eighth grade
· Win their school or community spelling bee in the 2019-2020 school year or be a previous participant in the national finals

The Bee will issue RSVBee invitations based on past performance in the national finals, grade level, participation in an unsponsored region or the largest, most competitive regions.

For 2020, the Bee is offering up to 18 financial aid packages to pay a majority of the RSVBee expense for qualified families. The aid will waive the $1,500 participation fee, pay for one hotel room for six nights during Bee Week, provide a $500 gift card for meals and a $500 stipend for travel. Parents who receive financial aid for their child will be responsible for any additional travel expenses to the competition, which is held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.

Parents can apply for financial aid after receiving an RSVBee invitation. Children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch are eligible for financial help. The Bee will verify financial aid applications and award aid on a first-come, first-served basis. More information is available here .

The deadline for RSVBee invitation acceptance is April 7 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

Bee Week is May 24-30, 2020. ESPN will livestream and broadcast the competition on its family of channels beginning May 26.