National scholarship contest for young minority freethinkers is open

A national scholarship contest for high school freethinkers of color is open to entries.

The First in the Family Catherine Fahringer Memorial Scholarships, administered by the Black Skeptics Group Los Angeles and underwritten by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, are available to high school youth in the United States who identify as atheist, agnostic, humanist and/or secular and are accepted into two or four-year colleges. Preference is given to students of color. Four $2,500 scholarships are awarded nationally to high school youth to assist with their college tuition, room and board, books and other academic resources. The deadline is June 17.

Students need to write between 400 and 700 words on the following topic: Humanism is based on the belief that every human being should be treated equally regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, class, and disability status. Human beings, not gods, are solely responsible for creating social change. Why do you identify as nonreligious/secular and what issue(s) are you passionate about addressing in your community? How might humanism make a positive difference in creating social change?

Students should also include a letter of recommendation from an adviser or a teacher and a copy of their admission letter to a two- or four-year college. (They can attach a separate page listing their participation in school and/or community-based organizations if this is not mentioned in their letter of recommendation.)

Last year’s winners, who were from all regions of the country, offered profound insights on the challenges of being a freethinker.

“Too many religious people insist upon waiting for ‘God’ to make a change,” Mercedes Hawkins wrote. “They fail to realize that the change is in them and it is their duty to cultivate it outwardly. Once more people embrace humanism, we will freely celebrate our differences in beliefs and promote acceptance.”

Zera Montemayor hoped for a better future. She ended with, “I want to be able to tell people I am an atheist without it ruining friendships. I believe humanism is the answer.”

Catherine Fahringer was a San Antonio-based feminist and freethinking activist who ran a FFRF chapter for a long time and served on FFRF’s executive board for many years. She was especially interested in nurturing the next generation of independent thinkers.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is dedicated to the separation of state and church and the promotion of freethought, with 23,800 nonreligious members all over the country. It hosts or underwrites a number of student essay and activist awards.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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