Army & Air Force Exchange Service Rewards High-Achieving Military Students with $4,000 in Prizes

Exchange You Made the Grade Sweepstakes Grand Prize Winner Bella Zavala

Fort Belvoir student Bella Zavala receives a $2,000 Army & Air Force Exchange Service gift card, the grand prize in the Exchange’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes, Aug. 1 at the Fort Belvoir Exchange. Also pictured from left, Bella’s sister, Mia; Fort Belvoir Garrison Commander Col. Michael Greenberg; Bella’s father, Lt. Col. James Zavala; Bella’s mother, Fancy; Bella’s sister, Crystal; and Bella’s niece, Emery.

DALLAS – Getting good grades has literally paid off for three hardworking military students who won a combined $4,000 in prizes in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes.

Bella Zavala, 9, of Fort Belvoir, Virginia, was presented with the grand prize—a $2,000 Exchange gift card—Aug. 1 at the Fort Belvoir Exchange.

“I really worked hard to keep my grades up, because I really want to make my mom and dad proud,” said Bella, who will begin the fourth grade this upcoming quarter.

Second-place winner Nora Conlin, 11, of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, won a $1,500 Exchange gift card, while Daisuke Rivas, 9, of Fort Meade, Maryland, placed third, receiving a $500 Exchange gift card. The three winners were selected from more than 500 high-achieving military students who qualified for the sweepstakes by maintaining a B average or better in spring 2020.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Luis Reyes, Exchange senior enlisted advisor, said the Exchange is honored to recognize the achievements of military students, who often experience frequent moves, deployments and other stressors not faced by their civilian classmates.

“It takes a lot of hard work to maintain good grades while moving from school to school every couple of years,” Reyes said. “The resiliency of these students shows all military kids that they can achieve great things despite the unique challenges that go along with a military upbringing.”

Through the Exchange’s You Made the Grade program, first- through 12th-graders, including homeschooled students, with a B average or higher are eligible to receive a $5 Exchange gift card each grading period during the 2019-20 school year.

“The You Made the Grade program is a good motivator for our kids,” said Lt. Col. James Zavala, Bella’s father. “My wife and I push them to do well and praise them every day, but it’s good for them to get some kind of outside acknowledgement for their grades. It really reinforces what we’re doing.”

Students who make the grade qualify to enter a worldwide sweepstakes to win a $2,000, $1,500 or $500 Exchange gift card. Drawings are held in December and June.

You Made the Grade sweepstakes entry forms are on the back of the $5 gift card carrier sleeve. Students can send completed forms to:

You Made the Grade
PO Box 227398
Dallas, TX 75222-7398

Facebook-friendly version: Fort Belvoir student Bella Zavala won the grand prize in the Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s You Made the Grade sweepstakes, a $2,000 Exchange gift card. Bella is one of three winners selected from more than 500 entries from high-achieving military students. Read more:

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Since 1895, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service (Exchange) has gone where Soldiers, Airmen and their families go to improve the quality of their lives by providing valued goods and services at exclusive military pricing. The Exchange is the 61st-largest retailer in the United States. Its earnings provided $2.2 billion in dividends to support military morale, welfare and recreation programs over the last 10 years. The Exchange is a non-appropriated fund entity of the Department of Defense and is directed by a Board of Directors. The Exchange is a 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative Partner, planning and conducting events and activities that recognize the service, valor and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans and their families in conjunction with the United States of America Vietnam War Commemoration. To find out more about the Exchange history and mission or to view recent press releases please visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at


Media Notes:

For more information or to schedule an interview with an Exchange representative please contact Conner Hammett, 214-312-2714 or

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