Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for the Holman Prize

Who is eligible for the Holman Prize?
Applicants must be 18 years old as of October 1st, 2018.  They must also be able to submit official documentation of blindness (during the semifinalist phase of the competition). Current LightHouse staff members and board members (as well as their immediate families) are not eligible for the Holman Prize; nor are previous winners.
How much money is the Holman Prize?
The prize funds projects with budgets up to $25,000.
When is the deadline for the 2018 Holman Prize application?
Video pitches, along with the initial application, are due by Wednesday, February 28, 2018 at noon PST. No exceptions will be made for late applications.

What kinds of projects does the Holman Prize fund or NOT fund?
- The prize funds projects that take a full year to complete (including planning, training and documentation).

- The Holman Prize must constitute at least 75% of the total funding for your project            

 - The prize funds projects that demonstrate ambition; winners are NOT required to travel to parts unknown, but should be doing something that takes them out of their comfort zone.

- The Prize does NOT fund any type of tuition.

 - The Prize does NOT fund projects in which the applicant is traveling or working primarily with a group of sighted people.
How do I apply?
The first thing you need to do is read this entire FAQ page! Then, record a 90 second YouTube video pitching your idea. You'll submit it along with a brief written application that will be made available when applications open in January.

If I’m not selected as a winner, can I get feedback on my application and/or proposal?
We will not provide individual feedback on any element of the application.

Video Pitch

How do I make my pitch video compelling?
Be yourself. Rehearse your pitch before recording it. Be funny. Be memorable. Be yourself. Feel free to use props, friends, sound effects, costumes. Make us laugh. Make us cry. Be yourself. Tell us who you are, but focus on your Holman project.
Try to record videos in landscape view (sideways) rather than portrait view. Face toward windows and light sources instead of away from them. Don’t hide your face!

We suggest that you take a few seconds at the beginning of your video to describe where the video is taking place, and what you are doing; don’t forget, our judges are blind and want to have as much information about you as possible.

Remember:  we are judging applicants on the strength of their ideas, not on the production quality of their videos. So, if you hire a Hollywood film crew to make your video, don’t assume that you’re guaranteed a spot in the semifinalist round. Even if Beyonce makes an appearance.

For some inspiration, check out the videos from our 2017 Holman Finalists here.

Will my video be eliminated if I don’t describe what is happening in the video itself (see above)?
No, but we strongly recommend that you do so.
How do I submit a YouTube video?
You can upload YouTube videos via your web browser or mobile device.
The easiest way we’ve found for blind users is to use an iPhone with VoiceOver on.
1. Record your video in the Camera app (we recommend turning Speech off - by using a three-finger triple tap - for this portion because it will interfere with the quality of your recording).
2. Tap the “Share” button.
3. Tap “Upload to YouTube.”
4. Enter your YouTube account information.
5. Give your project a catchy name and use it as the title of your YouTube video.
6. Be sure to tag your video with the #holmanprize hashtag.
7. Once the video is uploaded, copy the URL. You will need to paste it into your application.
What if I go over time on my 90 second pitch?
You will be eliminated from the competition.

Will my video be eliminated if I don’t describe what is happening in the video itself (see above)?
No, but we strongly recommend that you do so.

How often is the Holman Prize awarded?
The Holman Prize is awarded annually; 2017 was our inaugural year.

If I’m not selected as a prizewinner, can I apply again?
Yes! We suggest that you consider how you could improve your project and pitch when you apply again. You are also welcome to apply with a completely different idea!
Can two candidates apply together?
Yes, but your project will only receive up to $25,000, and every candidate must provide official proof of blindness.
Can I bring friends/family with me on my Holman excursion?
It depends on the project and their role in it. You’ll have an opportunity in the proposal to explain all of these details. Projects that may put children in perilous situations will not be considered.
Can the $25,000 include costs associated with training and preparation?
Can I apply if I am not a proficient English speaker?
Unfortunately, no.
If I’m deaf-blind, am I eligible? Is the cost of an aide included in the $25,000 or does LightHouse fund that separately?
Yes. Costs for an aid are considered on a project-by-project basis. We urge you to be budget conscious, but deaf-blind contestants will not be turned away due to extra costs related to accessibility.
Will the prize be given in one lump sum?
No. You will have a project manager at LightHouse that will assist you with all your financial and logistical needs during your excursion.

If I win, will the Holman Prize interfere with SSI, social security or other government benefits?
We hope not, but make no guarantees. The LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired is a nonprofit charity organization, and we are working to ensure that those who are benefit-eligible will not have their status compromised because of the Holman Prize.
Other than completing my project, what else am I responsible for if I win?
Winners have three major expectations in addition to simply completing their project. They are:
1. Attend pre-project orientation in San Francisco. All costs will be provided by LightHouse.
2. Thoroughly document your project, via audio, video, social media, photography, or another publishable media.
3. Return to San Francisco for the annual Holman Prize Gala to make a presentation about your experience, and to pass the torch to the next round of Holman Prizewinners. Again, all costs will be provided by LightHouse.
When do I need to complete my project?
You must complete your project in time to show a first draft of your presentation to LightHouse by October 1st, 2019.
Will LightHouse provide support in getting visas, etc.?
You will be responsible for your own visas and travel documents.
If my project costs more than $25,000 can I use the prize and pay for the rest by other means?
Yes. However, you must include all costs in your budget, including proof that you will have access to the additional funds by the time you leave for your excursion. The Holman Prize must constitute at least 75% of your total budget.
If my project costs less than $25,000 do I get to keep the difference?
No, but nice try (smiles).
Is the prize need-based or merit-based? Do you consider a person’s financial background?
While not necessarily based on need, the spirit of the Holman Prize is to give someone a chance to do something they would not have been able to do otherwise.

Selection Process

What happens after I submit my initial application and video? How long do I have to sit around, wringing my hands and waiting breathlessly for an answer?
Within a week of receiving each qualifying application, we will create an individual blog post on the Holman Prize website with a link to the candidate's video. Then, semifinalists will be announced in mid-March; they will complete an extensive written proposal that includes a budget, tentative itinerary, references and more. The proposals will be due in April.

In May, a select group of semifinalists will be selected as finalists for the Holman Prize. Prizewinners will be announced in July 2018.

What’s this People’s Choice Finalist all about?
The single candidate whose YouTube video has the most “likes” will be automatically entered into the Finalist round as the People's Choice Finalist. An important note: this person will still be responsible for meeting all qualifying criteria for the prize, and for completing the comprehensive application.

Can I “like” more than one video pitch?
Definitely! We closely monitor social media engagement, so if you want to have a say in the process, “like” as many videos and as often as you want. Like them on the blog, on YouTube, and share with your folks!

Can I upload my video before the date that applications open to start racking up “likes”?
Yes, but videos uploaded before January 16th will be ineligible for the People’s Choice Finalist award.

If I am selected as a Holman Prize winner, will I have a specific point person at LightHouse who can answer my questions?
Yes. Each Holman Prizewinner will be given a LightHouse project manager. They will be available to you throughout the entire process.
Who is this Holman character? Why does LightHouse for the Blind have a prize named after him?
James Holman was the first blind person to circumnavigate the globe, and did so in the 1820s. Read more about him here.
What if my question wasn’t answered here?
Email us at