Poetry Out Loud uses a pyramid structure that starts at the classroom level. Winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to a regional and/or state competition, and ultimately to the National Finals.
Each winner at the state level receives $200 and an all-expenses-paid trip with an adult chaperone to Washington, DC, to compete for the national championship. The state winner’s school receives $500 for the purchase of poetry books. The first runner-up in each state receives $100, with $200 for his or her school. A total of $50,000 in awards and school stipends is awarded annually at the National Finals.