Applications Open for 2021 Virtual 500 Festival Princess Program

Applications Open for 2021 Virtual 500 Festival Princess Program

Indiana’s College Women Looking for Leadership Development and Philanthropic Opportunities Encouraged to Apply

INDIANAPOLIS (November, 10 2020) – The 500 Festival, a nonprofit organization providing life-enriching events and program that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500®, is accepting applications for the 2021 Virtual 500 Festival Princess Program. Since 1959, the 500 Festival Princess Program has celebrated Indiana’s top college-aged leaders and philanthropists by providing scholarship, leadership development, and community service opportunities. The application is available and the deadline to apply for the 2021 Virtual Princess Program is Sunday, January 3, 2021.


Each year, 33 of Indiana’s most civic-minded, academically driven young women are selected to serve as a 500 Festival Princess. Serving as a 500 Festival Princess provides young women with once-in-a-lifetime experiences and countless opportunities for leadership and professional development. While current conditions do not allow a traditional program year to be possible, Indiana women will still be afforded opportunities for leadership, scholarship, community outreach, and networking in a virtual format. As 500 Festival Princesses, these individuals will grow as leaders, and positively impact their community and state. While things will look a little different due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the mission of the 500 Festival and the goals of the 2021 Princess Program will remain the same – to enrich lives and make a positive impact in communities across Indiana and celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500. More than 2,000 Indiana women have served as 500 Festival Princesses since the program’s inception in 1959.


“The 500 Festival Princess Program not only makes a positive impact for the 33 women involved each year, but also for community organizations around all of Indiana,” said Bob Bryant, president and CEO of the 500 Festival. “Many colleges across the state have switched to a virtual format, which is why we believe this group of Hoosier leaders will adapt to this new format for the 500 Festival Princess Program in 2021.”


500 Festival Princesses will participate in the virtual 500 Festival Leadership Development Program, presented by BKD, which empowers participants to make a profound impact within their community and the state of Indiana. The Leadership Development Program provides various opportunities for 500 Festival Princesses to learn more about professionalism in a working environment. Virtual sessions will be held throughout Spring 2021 will include discussions and trainings on personal brand, job search, mentorship, civic engagement, financial wellness and more. Princesses are expected to attend a minimum of two virtual sessions.


Each 500 Festival Princess will receive a $1,000 scholarship, made possible by the 500 Festival Foundation  and Marlyne Sexton, an Indianapolis philanthropist and president of The Sexton Companies. The women will also be involved in virtual community outreaches, coordinated by both the 500 Festival and 500 Festival Princesses.


“The 500 Festival Princess Program is a unique opportunity for college-aged women to develop their leadership, professional, and stewardship skills, said Kathleen Soller, the 2020 Marlyne Sexton 500 Festival Queen Scholar and junior at Saint Mary’s College majoring in Nursing. “This program allows young women to not only connect with each other, but to also connect with the community of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. I am so grateful to be a part of an amazing program that celebrates the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500 while helping me to grow as a person and to connect with my community. I encourage all eligible women to apply for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will not regret it!”


The application deadline for the 2021 500 Festival Princess Program is Sunday, Jan. 3 at 11:59 pm ET. Selected applicants will be invited to participate in a virtual interview process, scheduled to take place on Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. After the virtual interviews, 33 applicants will be selected to serve as a 2021 500 Festival Princess. 500 Festival Princess Program selection is based on the following categories: communication skills, commitment to service, leadership, scholarship, and professionalism.


To be eligible to serve as a 2021 500 Festival Princess, applicants must:

  • Claim legal residence in Indiana
  • Currently be enrolled as a full-time student at an accredited college or university located in Indiana; taking a minimum of 12 academic hours for undergraduate studies or a minimum of nine academic hours for graduate studies
  • Maintain a cumulative college GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Be actively involved in at least one extra-curricular activity
  • Be the age of 18 by January 1, 2021, but no older than 23 by May 31, 2021.


Click here to view the 2021 500 Festival Princess Program Eligibility Requirements.

Click here to view the 2021 500 Festival Princess Program Application.


To learn more about the Virtual 500 Festival Princess Program and its rules and regulations, please visit: Follow the 500 Festival Princess Program on social media via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or join the conversation using the hashtag #PrincessProgram.


Support of the 500 Festival Princess Program is provided by: BKD, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Vera Bradley, Marlyne Sexton, and the 500 Festival Foundation.


To learn more about 500 Festival’s events and programs, please visit


About the 500 Festival

Founded in 1957, the 500 Festival is a not-for-profit organization that producing life-enriching events and programs that celebrate the spirit and legacy of the Indianapolis 500® and foster positive impact on the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana. One of the largest festivals in the nation, each year more than half a million people attend an event or program produced by the 500 Festival. Since its founding, the 500 Festival has contributed more than $500 million in economic value to Indianapolis. To learn more about the 500 Festival, please visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.