FFRF 2021 Student Scholarship Essay Contests

Student Essay


William J. Schulz Memorial Essay Contest for College-Bound High School Seniors

Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards

First Place Prize: $3,500
Second Place Award: $3,000
Third Place Award: $2,500
Fourth Place Award: $2,000
Fifth Place Award: $1,500
Sixth Place Award: $1,000
Seventh Place Award: $750
Eighth Place Award: $500
Ninth Place Award: $400
Tenth Place Award: $300
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

All eligible entrants will receive a full one-year complimentary student membership, which includes a digital version of 10 issues of Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper (publishes winning student essays).

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: "In Science I Trust"

PROMPT: Write a personal statement about why you trust science over faith, and why you think society should do the same. Please include an example of how religious faith has obstructed science or analyze a historic or current issue related to religion vs. science, such as with the pandemic, stem-cell research, climate change, medical (and psychiatric) science, etc. (Note: We are not looking for an opinion or theory about the origin of religion or why religion exists.)

WORD LENGTH: 300-450 words

ELIGIBILITY: Open to all high school seniors who graduate in spring 2021, who will be attending a North American college or university in fall 2021. If you fit this profile and if you are Black, Indigenous or a Person of Color, you may enter this contest, or you may enter FFRF's David Hudak Memorial Contest for Black, Indigenous and Students of Color. However, you may not enter both contests.

DEADLINE: Fill out the application and submit your essay no later than 11:59 pm, May 31, 2021. Winners will be notified by late July 2021.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out the online submission form and attach the essay. The essay must be double-spaced, standard margins, the font size of 11 to 14 point, and attached as a PDF. Your name and the name of your essay must be included on every page. Pages must be numbered. Indicate word length at end of the essay. Please choose your own title; Do not upload any other documents here, such as a resume.

AGREEMENT: By entering the competition, you agree to permit your winning essay to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper; announced in a news release, and posted online at FFRF's website. You also agree, if you win an award, to promptly provide FFRF with a high-resolution photograph of yourself suitable for reproduction with your winning essay.

REQUIREMENTS: Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. Students will be disqualified if they do not follow instructions, including word limit and deadline. Students are required to submit their essay via the online application, and should carefully review all contest rules. FFRF monitors for plagiarism.

BANISH MANGLISH: FFRF encourages you to please use inclusive language, rather than language that presumes everyone is male. For example, try "humanity" or "humankind," rather than "mankind".

Click here to submit your essay.

Click here to view the 2020 winners


Michael Hakeem Memorial Essay Contest for Ongoing College Students

Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards

First Place Prize: $3,500
Second Place Award: $3,000
Third Place Award: $2,500
Fourth Place Award: $2,000
Fifth Place Award: $1,500
Sixth Place Mr. Madison Arnold Award: $1,000
Seventh Place Award: $750
Eighth Place Award: $500
Ninth Place Award: $400
Tenth Place Award: $300
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

Hakeem

All eligible entrants will receive a full 1-year complimentary student membership to FFRF, which includes a digital version of 10 issues a year of Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper (publishes winning student essays).

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: "How Religion divides us and secularism unites us."

PROMPT: Write an essay about the divisiveness of religion personally, historically and/or politically, and why secularism is unifying. You may wish to incorporate analysis of current events and controversies to make your case. Tell us why you personally reject religion. (Note: We are not looking for an opinion or theory about the origin of religion or why religion exists.)

WORD LENGTH: 450-650 words

ELIGIBILITY: Open to all ongoing undergraduate college students up to age 24 already attending a North American college or university. You remain eligible to enter this contest if you will graduate from college by spring or summer of 2021.

If you're entering college in Fall 2021 for the first time, please enter FFRF's contest for college-bound high school seniors. If you're an undergraduate student age 25 through 30, please enter FFRF's graduate/"older" student essay contest instead. If you're Black, Indigenous or a Student of Color up to age 21, who is currently enrolled in college, you may enter this contest or the David Hudak Essay Contest for Black, Indigenous and Students of Color, but you may not enter both contests.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than 11:59pm, June 30, 2021. Winners will be notified in August 2021.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out online submission form and attach essay. The essay must be double-spaced, standard margins, font size of 11 to 14 point, and attached as a PDF. Your name and the name of your essay must be included on every page. Pages must be numbered. Indicate word length at end of the essay. Please choose your own title, do not use the topic of the essay as the title. Do not attach a resume with your essay.

AGREEMENT: By entering the competition, you agree to permit your winning essay to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper; announced in a news release, and posted online at FFRF's website. You also agree, if you win an award, to promptly provide FFRF with a photograph of yourself suitable for reproduction with your winning essay.

Madison Arnold

REQUIREMENTS: Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. Students will be disqualified if they do not follow instructions, including word limit and deadline. FFRF monitors for plagiarism. You may not re-enter this contest if FFRF has previously awarded you for an essay in the Michael Hakeem College Contest. If you have previously entered but did not win, you may submit another essay in this contest.

BANISH MANGLISH: FFRF encourages you to please use inclusive language, rather than language that presumes everyone is male. For example, try "humanity" or "humankind," rather than "mankind."

Photo of the right: The $1,000 prize in the ongoing college competition is now being generously endowed starting in 2021 by actor and FFRF Lifetime Member Madison Arnold.

Click here to submit your essay.

Click here to view the 2020 winners.


David Hudak Memorial Essay Contest For Black, Indigenous and Students of Color

Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards

First Place Prize: $3,500
Second Place Award: $3,000
Third Place Award: $2,500
Fourth Place Award: $2,000
Fifth Place Award: $1,500
Sixth Place Award: $1,000
Seventh Place Award: $750
Eighth Place Award: $500
Ninth Place Award: $400
Tenth Place Award: $300
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

TOPIC: "What I would like to tell my family (or friends) about my atheism or nonbelief."

PROMPT: In an essay written in the form of a letter to a religious family member, friend or teacher, etc., please tell them what you think is most important to know about why you are an atheist or otherwise reject religion. (You may prefer to describe yourself as an agnostic, freethinker, humanist, etc.) You may wish to address common misconceptions or stereotypes about atheism, reassure them about your morality or explain why rejecting religion has improved your life. If you choose to discuss harm caused by religion, please include one reason why you also consider religion to be untrue. (Note: We are not looking for an opinion or theory about the origin of religion or why religion exists.)

ELIGIBILITY: Open only to Black, Indigenous and Students of Color ages 17-21, who are either high school seniors graduating in spring 2021 who will be attending a North American college or university in fall 2021, or who are currently enrolled in a college or university. If you will be graduating from college in the spring or summer 2021, you remain eligible to enter this contest. This contest is offered to provide support and acknowledgment for freethinking Black, Indigenous and Students of Color, as a minority within a minority. People of Color refers to all racial groups that are not white. Specifically, any person who is not considered white, including African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans and others. FFRF offers other essay contests open to all students in your age group. Students may only enter one FFRF contest annually.

WORD LIMIT: 400-600 words.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than 11:59pm, July 15, 2021. Winners will be notified in late August 2021.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out online submission form and attach essay. The essay must be double-spaced, standard margins, font size of 11 to 14 point, and attached as a PDF. Your name and the name of your essay must be included on every page. Pages must be numbered. Please choose your own title; do not use the topic of the essay as the title. Indicate word length at end of the essay. Do not attach a resume with your essay.

AGREEMENT: By entering the competition, you agree to permit your winning essay to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper; announced in a news release, and posted online at FFRF's website. You also agree, if you win an award, to promptly provide FFRF with a high-resolution photograph of yourself suitable for reproduction with your winning essay.

REQUIREMENTS: Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. Students will be disqualified if they do not follow instructions, including word limit and deadline. FFRF monitors for plagiarism.

BANISH MANGLISH: FFRF encourages you to please use inclusive language, rather than language that presumes everyone is male. For example, try "humanity" or "humankind," rather than "mankind."

Click here to submit your essay.

Click here to view the 2020 winners.


Brian Bolton Essay Contest for Graduate/"Older" Students (To Age 30) 

Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards

First Place Prize: $3,500
Second Place Award: $3,000
Third Place Award: $2,500
Fourth Place Award: $2,000
Fifth Place Award: $1,500
Sixth Place Award: $1,000
Seventh Place Award: $750
Eighth Place Award: $500
Ninth Place Award: $400
Tenth Place Award: $300
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

Bolton

All eligible entrants will receive a full 1-year complimentary student membership to FFRF, which includes a digital version of 10 issues of Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper (publishes winning student essays).

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: The dangers of religious extremism in 21st century America.

PROMPT: Please write about the dangers of religious extremism today in the United States, whether by individuals, churches, public officials or the judiciary. You may wish to address Christian nationalist threats to civil rights or American principles. Provide some examples and analysis, and make a case for secularism.

WORD LENGTH: 550 - 750 words

ELIGIBILITY: Open to any graduate students through the age 30, or to undergraduate students ages 25-30 who attend a North American college or university. You remain eligible to enter this contest if you will graduate by spring or summer 2021.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than 11:59pm, July 31, 2021. Winners will be notified in late September 2021.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out the online submission form and attach the essay. Essay must be typeset, double-spaced, standard margins, font size of 11 to 14 point, and attached as a PDF. Your name and the name of your essay must be included on every page. Pages must be numbered. Indicate word length at end of the essay. Please choose your own title; do not use the topic of the essay as the title. Do not attach a resume with your essay.

AGREEMENT: By entering the competition, you agree to permit your winning essay to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper; announced in a news release, and posted online at FFRF's website. You also agree, if you win an award, to promptly provide FFRF with a high-resolution photograph of yourself suitable for reproduction with your winning essay.

REQUIREMENTS: Winners may be asked to send verification of student enrollment. Students will be disqualified if they do not follow instructions, including word limit and deadline. FFRF monitors for plagiarism. You may not re-enter this contest if FFRF has previously awarded you for an essay in FFRF's Brian Bolton "Graduate/Older Student" contest. If you have previously entered but not won, you may submit another essay in this year's contest.

BANISH MANGLISH: FFRF encourages you to please use inclusive language, rather than male-generic language. For example, try "humanity" or "humankind," rather than "mankind."

Click here to submit your essay.

Click here to view the 2020 winners.


2021 Cornelius Vanderbroek Memorial Essay Competition for Law School Students 

Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards

First Place Prize: $4,000
Second Place Award: $3,000
Third Place Award: $2,000
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $500

All eligible entrants will also receive a full 1-year complimentary student membership to FFRF, which includes a digital version of 10 issues of Freethought Today, FFRF’s newspaper (publishes winning student essays).

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: Why "history" shouldn't justify violations of the separation between state and church.

PROMPT: In Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court wrote that “the Establishment Clause must be interpreted ‘by reference to historical practices and understandings.’” In the wake of that decision, courts have struggled to define the exact contours of the historical considerations at play, with some courts treating Galloway as announcing a broadly applicable “history test,” while others have continued to apply more traditional Establishment Clause tests. In no more than 1,500 words, identify the dangers in interpreting Galloway as establishing a broadly applicable “history test” and, with citation to at least two post-Galloway cases, from any courts, define the outer boundaries where a history test should be applied.

DEADLINE: June 15, 2021

ELIGIBILITY: The contest is open to students enrolled in a North American law school during the 2020-21 academic year. You remain eligible to enter this contest if you are a 3L and graduate from law school in 2021. You are not eligible to enter if you will be starting law school for the first time in the fall of 2021. You may not re-enter if FFRF has already awarded you for a law student essay.

WORD LIMIT AND FORMATTING: Essay must be no longer than 1,500 words (not including footnotes), double spaced, standard margins, and font size 11 to 14 point. Include your name and title of your essay on each page. Choose your own title. Pages must be numbered. Indicate word length at end of essay.

AGREEMENT: By entering, students agree to permit winning essays to be printed in full or in part in Freethought Today, FFRF's newspaper, and posted online at FFRF's website. Winners agree to promptly provide a photograph suitable for reproduction with their essay. Verification of student enrollment may also be requested.

Click here to submit your essay

Click here to view the 2020 winners. 

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