International Essay Contest
Topic for the 2023-2024 school year is: "Optimism: How It Connects Us”
Who: The contest is open to contestants under the age of 19 as of October 1st of the current Optimist International contest year (October 1 – September 30) and who have not yet completed secondary school or its equivalent, including CEGEP students in Québec, Canada. There is no minimum age. Students must enter in the District in which they reside. U.S. students attending school on military installations outside the U.S. are eligible to enter in their last home of record.
To Enter: Interested students must contact their local Optimist Club.
They need to submit an essay on the pre-assigned topic. To find out a contact,
please e-mail the Programs Department at email@example.com.
The Essay Contest planning pages are intended for use by Optimist Clubs
in organizing and conducting a contest in their Club. They contain no information
on entering the contest and are of no use to students wishing to enter the
contest. Students must contact their local Optimist Club.
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.
Clubs and Districts
The deadline for Clubs to submit their winning essay to the District Chair is February 28, 2024.
The deadline for Districts to submit their winner’s information to Optimist International is April 15, 2024.
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.
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!
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
Club Essay Planning Guide
District Essay Planning Guide
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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)