Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards


David Hudak 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 be offered a full one-year complimentary student membership, which includes a digital version of 10 issues of Freethought Today (FFRF's newspaper which publishes student essays), and a complimentary book or premium.


PROMPT: Religion often gets the credit for civil rights achievements, but has it also hindered racial equality? You may write from the perspective of history or current struggles, religious psychology or personal experience. You may wish to write about whether secular individuals have furthered equality and civil rights but been overlooked. Include at least one example from your own experience about how religion or religious faith can hamper racial equality, self-acceptance and civil rights.

WORD LIMIT: 350-500 words.

ELIGIBILITY: Open only to Black, Indigenous and Students of Color ages 17-21, who are either high school seniors graduating in spring 2024 who will be attending a North American college or university in fall 2024, or who are currently enrolled in a North American college or university. If you will be graduating from college in the spring or summer 2024, 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. Fill out application and submit your essay no later than 11:59 pm CDT, June 1, 2024. Winners will be notified no later than September 2024.

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. FFRF monitors for plagiarism and A.I. (e.g., ChatGPT, etc.). If an entry is found to involve either, it will be disqualified and FFRF will bar entrant from future FFRF essay competitions, or take other warranted action.

AGREEMENT: By entering the competition, you agree to permit your name and 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.

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."