John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest is an annual writing competition sponsored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. It is named in honor of President John F. Kennedy and his 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book "Profiles in Courage," which profiles eight U.S. senators who demonstrated political courage.

Competition Details

Introduction: In Profile in Courage, John F. Kennedy tells the stories of eight U.S. senators who risked their careers to do the right thing for their country. These leaders demonstrated political courage by standing up for the public good despite pressure from interest groups, their political parties, and even their constituents. The JFK Courage Essay Contest asks students to write an original and creative essay demonstrating an understanding of the political courage described in John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage.

Competition Topic: Describes and analyzes an act of political courage by an American elected official who served during or after 1917. Includes an analysis of the obstacles, risks, and consequences associated with the act. Essays may address local, state, national, or international issues. Because originality is a criteria for review, students are strongly encouraged to present officials in their town, state or region, or leaders who have addressed issues of concern to them.

Competition Requirement: Word count is a maximum of 1,000 and a minimum of 700, excluding citations and bibliography; Use at least five different sources, such as government documents, letters, newspaper articles, books, and personal interviews.

Recognition and Awards: First place – $10,000, Second place – $3,000, Five Finalists – $1,000 each, and 8 Semi-finalists – $100 each

Competition Website: LINK

Other Writing Contest you may be interested in: Guide to YoungArts Writing Competition


The contest is open to United States high school students in grades 9 through 12 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 fifty states, the District of Columbia, or the U.S. territories; and U.S. citizens attending schools overseas. Past winners and finalists are not eligible to participate. Employees of John Hancock Financial Services and members of their families are not eligible to participate.

Submission deadline

January 12, 2024

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