Essay Prompt, Requirements, Eligibility, and Awards


William J Schulz Memorial First Place Award: $3,000
Second Place Award: $2,000
Third Place Award: $1,000
Fourth Place Award: $750
Fifth Place Award: $500
Sixth Place Award: $400
Optional Honorable Mention(s): $200

In addition to their scholarship, winners will receive a school-year membership to FFRF, which includes a subscription to Freethought Today. All other eligible entrants will be offered the choice of a student FFRF membership and Freethought Today subscription, or a freethought book or product.
THIS YEAR'S TOPIC: “If there was one thing I could tell my family or a believer about why I’m a nonbeliever, this would be it.”

PROMPT: What would you like to tell a believer in your life (such as a family member, friend or a teacher) about why you choose freethought (atheism, agnosticism)?  You may wish to include some intellectual arguments about why you aren’t a believer or what you consider the most compelling reasons for rejecting religion. Or you may wish to explain personal challenges you have faced as a young freethinker in a religious culture, or in communicating with a specific believer about your nonbelief. You may wish to draw on real life experiences in which you have tried to explain your nonbelief to a religious individual in your life.

WORD LENGTH: 350-500 words
ELIGIBILITY: Open to North American high school seniors who graduate in spring 2017, going on to college in fall 2017.

DEADLINE: Fill out application and submit your essay no later than midnight, June 1, 2017.

SUBMISSION RULES: Please fill out online submission form and attach essay. Essay must be typed, double-spaced, standard margins, font size of 11 or 12 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 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.

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.