Friend of Youth

Essay Contest

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. A new official topic is chosen each year. Students are encouraged to develop their skills for written expression, and they could win a college scholarship in the process!

The contest is divided into two levels of competition:

1. The preliminary Club contest, where the winner from each local contest advances to the District level, and

2. The Michigan District scholarship contest, where the three top winners are awarded scholarships in the amounts of $2,500 for first place; $1,500 and $1,000 scholarships for second and third place, respectively. These scholarships are funded by the Optimist International Foundation and from private individuals.

Essay high res

Could You Use a $2500 Scholarship?


Topic for the 2023-24 school year is: “Optimism: How it Connects Us”

Open to all students under the age of 19 as of Oct 1, 2023 (and not enrolled as a degree-seeking student of a post-secondary institution)

Student must reside in the State of Michigan – Lower Peninsula

The essay must be written in English

How to Enter:
Students write and submit an essay on their interpretation of this year’s official topic, “Optimism: How it Connects Us”.

This scholarship contest is comprised of 2 levels: A preliminary round, which is conducted by local Optimist clubs across the state (entry deadline is generally Jan 31, 2024). The winner from each local club advances to the District level, where scholarships are awarded annually in May. The overall winner receives a $2,500 scholarship, Second Place earns $1,500 and Third Place earns $1,000.

A list of participating clubs will be posted in early December. Students: submit your essay packet to the one in your community. If there is not an Optimist Club where you live, submit your essay packet to the one nearest to you. Duplicate entries will not be accepted and are grounds for disqualification.

Most Clubs only accept submissions during the months of December and January. It is your responsibility to verify the deadline with the respective chairperson. Student submissions will not be accepted after the Club-level contests have closed.

Optimist Clubs or parents wanting more information can use the form below or please e-mail the Michigan District Essay Chair at essay@michiganoptimists.org.



Club-Level Winner’s Submission Deadline:
The deadline for Clubs to submit their winning essay to the District Chair is February 28, 2024. Please refer to your Club Packet or contact the District Chair for more information.


Essay Contest

Application for 2023-2024 Optimist International Essay Contest

2023 – 2024 Local Clubs Participating in Essay Contest

No entries match your request.

The list of participating clubs is usually available by December. In the meantime, students are encouraged to work on their essay, so it will be ready to submit. Most local clubs only accept Essay Application during the months of December and January. Students are to submit to the Club in their community. If one is not listed, submit to the club nearest where you live. Students are only permitted to submit to one club. Duplicate submissions are deleted.
2022-23 Essay Contest Winner

2022-23 Essay Contest Winner

1st place, and a $2,500 scholarship:Brooke Lewis, age 16 from Zealand High SchoolHolland Optimist Club   "Who is an Everyday Hero that Brings Out the Optimism in You?" Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "Good leaders inspire people to have confidence in their leader....

Get in Touch. Get Involved.

Whether you’re a parent of a student, a teacher, a youth volunteer or even an Optimist looking for more information, please use the form below and someone from the Michigan District Optimists Essay Committee will contact you. Be as concise as possible in the Message area.