This post was last updated on September 7th, 2016 at 12:05 am

Deadline: Registration opens November 1, 2016. Entries must be received online in February 2017, check website for details.

Eligibility: Students in grades nine through 12 may take part in the contest with the sponsorship of a coordinator: parent, teacher, youth leader, etc. Students must have a contest coordinator who can review essays and act as the key contact between participants and the Institute.

Essays must use well-researched ideas and facts to hold together logical and compelling arguments and present thoughtful solutions to the problem; reflect an ability to organize complex facts and ideas; bring interesting perspectives and ideas to the analysis and recommendations; and pay attention to writing style and mechanics (grammar, syntax and punctuation).

Award: Up to 53 first-place state winners receive $1,000 scholarships and compete for national awards of $10,000, $5,000, and $2,500 for first, second and third place. (National award includes state award amounts.) All first-place state winners are invited to attend an all-expense-paid, five-day awards program in Washington, D.C.

Contact: Essay guidelines available at