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The 2022 Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Contest will open for submissions on January 12, 2022. Take a look at last year's winning essays below!

Every year since 2013, The Hope and Stanley Adelstein Free Speech Essay Contest challenges high school students to examine the role of free speech in the 21st century. The essay contest was established by Hope and Stanley as part of the City Club’s Centennial celebration. The Adelsteins were longtime City Club members, philanthropists, and environmental activists. Stanley joined the City Club in 1941 and remained an active member until his death in 2014. Hope’s hallmark was civic involvement, and she was active in the Cleveland community until her death in 2016.

All high school students in Northeast Ohio are eligible to apply for scholarship prizes. Essays should pull from personal experience, current events, history, politics, art, anything really so long as they are backed up with evidence. Essays will be judged on their clarity, content, originality, and significance.


2022 Essay Contest Details

2022 Prompt:

In recent months there has been a lot of debate about Critical Race Theory (CRT) being taught in classrooms across America. The anti-CRT movement has inspired parents to voice concerns at school board meetings and state legislators to ban the use and teaching of CRT in K-12 classrooms. The legislation proposed in Ohio doesn’t name CRT directly, but it prohibits a set of concepts from being taught or used as content in professional development. A very similar law in Texas specifically prohibits the use of the New York Times’s 1619 Project in public school classrooms.

What is at risk if this kind of legislation passes? Reflect on the important lessons you’ve learned at school about our national history. Are there specific aspects of our history that deserve more attention or something you think should not be taught at school? America prides itself on being a champion of free speech and a beacon of democracy. How would limiting what teachers can teach complicate our idea of freedom of expression? How would you recommend your state government address the ongoing debate over CRT and systemic racism? 

Submit Your Essay Here


Eligibility and details:

  • All Northeast Ohio high school students are eligible to participate
  • There are two categories of judging – 9/10 grade and 11/12 grade
  • Essays must be 500-1,000 words
  • Please use 3 to 5 articles from reliable, valid sources in your essay.
  • Each entry is assigned a number. Essays are blind-scored by number only; no student or school names are identified. Do not include student name or school name within the body of your essay. Failure to comply may result in disqualification.
  • All first-place winners of each category are invited to read their winning essays at the start of a City Club virtual forum.
  • Deadline: Thursday, March 31, 2022

Example sources:

  • TBD

See here for full scoring rubric.

Awards:

11/12 Grade

  • First Place: $1,000
  • Second Place: $750
  • Third Place: $500
  • Honorable Mention: $250

9/10 Grade

  • First Place: $500
  • Second Place: $250
  • Third Place: $150
  • Honorable Mention: $100

You can view the winning essays from 2021 here: Grade 11/12 Grade 9/10

For any questions regarding the Essay Contest, please contact Tiffany France at tfrance@cityclub.org.

Essay Contest Winner

Vinay Bodapoti, 2017 Grade 11/12 Free Speech Essay Contest Winner

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