The ACLU of New Hampshire is proud to collaborate with the National Writing Project in New Hampshire (NWPNH) for a statewide essay contest on civil rights.

The contest is open to middle school, high school, and undergraduate college students at public and private New Hampshire institutions. Financial prizes will be awarded to first place winners in each of the three school categories and be invited as guests of the ACLU of NH to our annual Bill of Rights Awards Ceremony on Sunday, June 3, 2018. Winning essays will be published on the ACLU of NH and NWPNH websites. There is no contest entrance fee.

As the New Hampshire chapter of the National Writing Project, founded in 2002, the NWPNH shares the values of the national organization: equity, diversity, and excellence. NWPNH believes that access to high quality educational experiences is a basic right of all learners and a cornerstone of equity. Through building an extensive network of teacher leaders, NWPNH seeks to promote exemplary instruction of writing in every classroom in the state. Click here to learn more about NWPNH, visit their website.

CONTEST DETAILS: Contestants may choose to write on one of two civil rights issues: Social Justice or Free Speech. Essays must answer only one of the following questions:

Social Justice

  1. Write about a current social justice event or issue that affects you personally. Describe how it affects you and what you think should have been done in response to this event or issue?
  2. How do you define fairness or justice? Tell a story from your life about a time when you thought you or someone you know was treated unfairly or unjustly. What did you learn from this?

Free Speech

  1. How has the right to free speech shaped American culture? How has it touched your life?
  2. What limits, if any, would you put on free speech and why? What in your life has led you to this view?
  3. Tell a story from your life about a time when you felt uncomfortable speaking freely. Why and how did this affect you? What did you learn from this?

WRITING LIMITS: Middle school essays must not be longer than 500 words; high school essays must not be longer than 750 words; and college undergraduate essays must not be longer than 1,000 words.

RULES: Essays will be disqualified if they have been found to be plagiarized in any way. No family member of a judge may enter the contest. All submissions must be electronic with no identifying information on the essay, only in the body of the email. The author’s name will not be attached to the essay for judging.

COST: There is no submission fee to enter the contest - it's FREE!

TO ENTER: Email submissions to


AWARDS: All contest winners will be notified on May 11, 2018. First Place winners in each school group will: receive a $250 gift from the ACLU of NH; be invited as a guest at the ACLU of NH's Bill of Rights Awards ceremony on June 3, 2018 in Concord; be offered two complimentary tickets to the Awards ceremony; be offered the opportunity to read their essay at the Awards ceremony; and have their essay published by the ACLU of NH and NWPNH websites. 

MORE INFORMATION: For more contest information, please contact Paul Racioppi with the ACLU of NH. 



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