Welcome to the 2017 Facing History Together Student Essay Contest

Making Choices in Today's World

Facing History and Ourselves teaches us to think about the world in new ways, igniting conversations about how we can build societies free from racism, antisemitism, bullying, and hatred of all kinds. 

This contest invites students to reflect on who or what has influenced how they think about their roles and responsibilities as engaged members of their communities.


Student Scholarships & Awards 

With the generous support of Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation's Holocaust Remembrance Project, Facing History is excited to offer more than $25,000 in scholarships and awards to students and their educators. 

Three $5,000 (£4,000​) Upstander Scholarships will be awarded to students in 7th-12th grade (years 9-13 in the UK) and their teacher will also receive a $500 (£400) Classroom Award. At least one $5,000 (£4,000​) Upstander Scholarship will be designated for a graduating senior (year 13 in the UK). 

Seven $1,000 (£800) Upstander Awards will also be awarded to students in 7th-12th grade (years 9-13 in the UK) and their teacher will also receive a $250 (£200) Classroom Award

Eligibility: Students must be at least 13 years or older and reside in the United States, Canada (with the exception of Quebec), or the United Kingdom to participate. Please note that slightly different rules apply for participants in the UK; the UK rules can be found below the US and Canada rules in the official contest rules. ​


Educator Resources 

Looking for ways to continue exploring these ideas in your classroom? Check out these ready-to-use lesson plans that will help you engage your students as they consider how they want to participate in their community and world.


Read the Official Contest Rules and FAQs

Questions? Contact contest@facinghistory.org.


The Prompt:

Facing History and Ourselves works to create a society of thoughtful citizens who think deeply about the way they live as they make choices in their local communities and confront issues of global concern. We hope that students will believe that their choices do matter and will feel compelled to think carefully about the decisions they make, realizing that their choices will ultimately shape the world.

Elie Wiesel (1928-2016), the Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate, once spoke of the importance of learning about people who were rescuers during the Holocaust. He said, “Let us not forget, after all, that there is always a moment when the moral choice is made. Often because of one story or one book or one person, we are able to make a different choice, a choice for humanity, for life.”

Please write an essay responding to Wiesel’s quote in 500 words or less. What story, book, or person has influenced your thinking about ethical decision making? What has it taught you about how you can participate as a caring, thoughtful citizen in the world around you?


Contest & Scholarship Supporter

Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation's Holocaust Remembrance Project

For over 20 years, the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation's Holocaust Remembrance Project has encouraged the study of the Holocaust and how this watershed moment in human history relates to our world today. As part of this initiative, the Foundation is generously supporting Facing History's 2017 Student Essay Contest, which will encourage students to reflect upon the Holocaust as they examine the role of moral courage in today's society. In addition to the Foundation’s financial support of the Essay Contest and its student scholarships and teacher awards, individual employees of the law firm of Holland & Knight will serve as essay reviewers.

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