International Essay Contest
All Club-level contests are held by early February. Student submissions will not be accepted after the Club-level contests have closed. Please contact your District Chair for more information.
The deadline for Clubs to submit their winning essay to the District Chair is February 28, 2016. The deadline for Districts to submit their winner’s information to Optimist International is April 15, 2016.
The Essay Contest is sponsored by Optimist International to give young people the opportunity to write about their own opinions regarding the world in which they live. The approach can encompass a young person’s personal experience, the experience of their country or a more historical perspective. In additional to developing skills for written expression, participants also have the opportunity to win a college scholarship!
The guidelines require that contestants be under age 18 as of September 30 of the contest school year and attending school in the United States, Canada, or the Caribbean. Club winners advance to the District contest to compete for a $2,500 college scholarship. The District-level scholarships are funded by the Optimist International Foundations.
Information for Optimist Members planning the contest:
All Members can now view and conveniently print planning pages for any International Program from your home computer. Click here to view the 2015-2016 Club Essay Contest planning pages. Click here to view the 2015-2016 District Essay Contest planning pages. To view the planning pages for any of the International Programs and Community Activities, please visit the Planning Guides page.
Essay Contest Package - A Program Package for the Essay Contest is available on the Package Programs page of the website. On that page, Clubs can find useful materials to help them get started with a new Essay Contest program.
Support merchandise for this program can be ordered through Shumsky for US and Caribbean Clubs and from Ansell's Awards and Specialties for Canadian Clubs. Contact information for both supply companies can be found here.
To enter, you must contact your local Optimist Club!
For additional information, please contact Optimist International Programs Department by e-mail at email@example.com, or call (800) 500-8130.
Certificates of Participation
If your Club or District is sponsoring a contest, certificates of participation can be presented to all contestants.
Certificate for Club level
Certificate for Region/Zone level
Certificate for District level
Publicize the Essay Contest
Optimist International has developed a series of news releases that Clubs and Districts can use in connection with their participation in international programs. Below are sample news releases that Clubs and Districts can use to promote their Essay Contests. Please note that the .doc version enables users to type their information into fields*, while the .pdf files are for viewing only.
Essay Contest - Prior to event (.doc)
Essay Contest - Prior to event (.pdf)
Essay Contest - After event (.doc)
Essay Contest - After event (.pdf)
District Essay Contest - After event (.doc)
District Essay Contest - After event (.pdf)
*If your Optimist Club or District wishes to use its own letterhead, you can remove the Optimist International logo in the document by opening up the Word document, going to “View,” then “Toolbars” and selecting “Forms.” When the “Forms” toolbar appears, click on the padlock, then click on the Optimist logo and delete it. For those using Microsoft Office 2007, click on the Microsoft Office button in the upper left corner, go to “Word options” and then select the box next to “Show the Developer tab in the Ribbon” and click “OK.” Above the document, click the “Developer” tab and then click on the “Protect Document” drop-down menu. Click on “Restrict Formatting and Editing.” At the bottom of the new window to the right, click the “Stop Protection” button.