Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards


David Hudak First Place Award: $3,000
Second Place Award: $2,000
Third Place Award: $1,000
Fourth Place Award: $750
Fifth Place Award: $600
Sixth Place Award: $500
Seventh Place Award: $400

Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

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

All eligible entrants also will be offered a complimentary, sweatshop-free cotton T-shirt (let us choose the color).  The upbeat message includes a rhyme by the "slightly irreverent" lyricist Yip ("Over the Rainbow") Harburg: "They who live on love and laughter/Don't mess with the hereafter."
You may order your T-shirt at the end of this survey.

THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: “Challenges of being a student of color who rejects religion."

PROMPT: Tell us why you reject religion, including at least a few intellectual reasons, and what challenges you face from your family, community, and as a minority within a minority.  You may wish to include tips on what would make the freethought movement more welcoming to minority nonbelievers.

WORD LENGTH: 450-650 words
ELIGIBILITY: Open to ongoing undergraduate college students of color to age 24 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 2018. (Note: You may enter only one of FFRF's two essay competitions for ongoing college students.)

If you're entering college for the first time in fall 2018, please instead enter the William J. Schulz Contest for college-bound high school seniors.  If you're an undergraduate student age 25 through 30, you must enter the Brian Bolton Graduate/"Older" Student Essay Contest.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than midnight, July 1, 2018.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out online submission form and attach essay. Essay must be typed, 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 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.