Spring 2018 National Student Writing Competition: Letters of Hope

Want to inspire your students to write? Here's an opportunity to write about something meaningful and for an audience beyond the classroom

The YES! National Student Writing Competition is an opportunity for middle school through university students to write for a real audience—not just you, the teacher—and the chance to be published by an award-winning magazine.


Each quarter, students are invited to read and write an essay on a selected YES! Magazine article. We divide contestants into four categories: middle school, high school, university, and Powerful Voice (for authors whose essays are powerful and passionate). Winning essays in each category are published on the YES! Magazine website and in our online education newsletter.


Register here. 


Click here for general information about the writing competition.


Read recent featured essays here. 


Letters of Hope


This spring, students will read and respond to the YES! Magazine article, “Love Letters to the Resistance,” by Aura Bogado.


The article reviews the book, Radical Hope: Letters of Love and Dissent in Dangerous Times, in which editor Carolina de Robertis has compiled letters that convey a sense of hope in the face of today’s social and political turmoil. The letters are penned by 30 writers and addressed to people—past, present, and future—who hold importance in their lives. In these letters, the writers seek hope from elders, grandparents, activists, children, even strangers who mirror the despair—and hope—that people are feeling at this moment in time.  

The Writing Prompt


Students, please respond to the writing prompt below with an up-to-700-word letter:


Think about what matters most to you about our country’s future. Write a letter to someone important to you, describing that future you imagine and hope for.

Who is Eligible?


  • You must be a classroom teacher—homeschool cooperative, resource centers, supervised writing groups, and schools outside the U.S. included—for your students to participate.


  • Student writers should be in grades 6-8, grades 9-12, college/university, or adult continuing education.

How does it work?


  • Complete the competition registration form by March 9, 2018 (see link at bottom of page).


  • Students respond to the YES! article with an essay up to 700 words.


  • Submit up to three essays per class period, along with student release forms, by April 20, 2018.


  • For each of the following categories, YES! staff (and possibly the author of the article) will select one essay that we feel is well-written, compelling, and captures the spirit of the article:


    • Middle School (Grades 6-8)


    • High School (Grades 9-12)


    • College/university


    • Powerful Voice (for an author whose essay is uniquely powerful or thought-provoking)


    • The selected essays will be featured on the YES! Magazine website and in our online education newsletter, reaching thousands of YES! readers, including over 11,000 teachers.

Common Core State Standards


This writing competition meets several Common Core State Standards for grades 6-12, including W.9-10.3 and W.9-10.4 for Writing, and RI.9-10.1 and RI.9-10.2 for Reading: Informational Text *


*This standard applies to other grade levels. “9-10” is used as an example.

What are the essay requirements?


  • Respond to the article and writing prompt provided by YES!


  • Provide an original essay title


  • Reference the article


  • No more than 700 words


  • Must be original, unpublished words


  • Teachers must read and submit their students’ essays. Remember, the limit is three essays per class period! Please take time to read your students’ essays to ensure they have met essay requirements, including correct grammar. Unfortunately, we cannot accept essays sent independently by students.


 In addition, we are evaluating essays for:


  • Grammar


  • Organization


  • Strong style and personal voice. We encourage writers to include personal examples and insights.


  • Originality and clarity of content and ideas

How do I submit the three best essays from my class?


  • You must be registered for the competition by March 9, 2018.


  • E-mail your three best student essays as word-processed document attachments (please no pdf or scanned documents) to [email protected] no later than April 20, 2018.


  • Include a scanned, completed student release form with each submitted essay. Please make sure student email addresses are legible and visible —preferably typed. NOTE: Please submit all student essays by April 20, even if there are missing release forms.  Send in completed students releases as soon as you receive them. 

Get Started Here:


Registration Form 


Student Release Form


Evaluation Rubric




Questions? Please email [email protected]




Thank you for joining us!

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