This post was last updated on September 7th, 2016 at 01:07 am

Deadline:  Submissions will be accepted starting September 1, 2016. The 2017 contest deadline is January 4, 2017.

Eligibility:  The contest is open to United States high school students in grades nine through twelve attending public, private, parochial, or home schools; U.S. students under the age of twenty enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program in any of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or the U.S. territories; and U.S. citizens attending schools overseas.
All students must have a nominating teacher to provide them with support and advice during the writing of their essay. Essays must describe an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official that occurred during or after 1956, the publication date of Profiles in Courage. The official may have addressed an issue at the local, state or National level. Contest requirements and samples of previous winning essays are available online.


  • First place: $10,000 – a $5,000 cash award and $5,000 to grow in a John Hancock Freedom 529 College Savings Plan, as well as an invitation to accept the award at Profile in Courage Award ceremony held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston in May.
  • Second place: $1,000 cash award.
  • Up to five finalists: $500 cash award.

All winners receive a hardcover copy of John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage.
Nominating teacher of the first-place winner is also invited to the Kennedy Presidential Library to receive the John F. Kennedy Public Service Grant of $500 for school projects encouraging student leadership and civic engagement.
All participants receive a Certificate of Participation.