In 1996 Jimmy McCarthy of St. Petersburg, Florida, became the first profoundly deaf speller to compete at the national level. He tied for 48th place in the field of 247 spellers.
We are the nation's largest and longest-running educational promotion, administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company and local spelling bee sponsors in the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; also, the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
Our purpose is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts, and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.
Our headquarters office in Cincinnati, Ohio, coordinates the national finals, produces word lists and study materials, works with local spelling bee sponsors, and enrolls schools. This office operates year-round.
Local Spelling Bee Sponsors:
The local spelling bee sponsors conduct community spelling bee programs, usually in cooperation with school officials for public, private, parochial, charter, virtual and home schools. The champion of each local spelling bee sponsor's program qualifies for participation in the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, D.C. Each year we grant a limited number of local spelling bee sponsorships. Local spelling bee sponsors are newspapers, colleges, universities and other high-profile community businesses and organizations. Only four local spelling bee sponsors are owned by The E.W. Scripps Company.
Every fall, tens of thousands of schools enroll in our program. During the fall and winter, schools will conduct spelling bee programs at the classroom, grade, and/or school level, and send their spelling champions to the next level of competition as designated by their local spelling bee sponsors.
Students prepare for local spelling bees using a variety of materials provided by us and Merriam-Webster, and they advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, D.C., by winning a series of spellings as outlined by their local spelling bee sponsors. In general terms, the program is open to students who have neither turned 16 nor passed beyond the eighth grade, and who attend schools that officially enrolled with our program for the current academic year. A complete listing of eligibility requirements may be found here.