WASHINGTON, D.C.–The American Prospect magazine, in partnership with Omidyar Network, announces the American Prospect Essay Contest.
With rising inequality and plummeting economic mobility, many Americans are considering how to create a more inclusive economy. This competition will give high school students the opportunity to read and reflect on one of four renowned books exploring how the economy works in terms of poverty, race, markets, and democracy. The students’ essays will explore where the economy falls short and what we might do about it.
The American Prospect has long championed independent reporting on the economic and social costs of inequality.
Omidyar Network believes this essay contest is an opportunity to engage young people in a critical discussion that will have a deep impact on their futures.
“The story of free markets maximizing both freedom and efficiency is a convenient fable, but the real economy and its connection to democracy is more complex,” says Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of the Prospect. “High school students can grapple with this complexity when they are invited to engage with great books.”
High school freshmen and sophomores may write up to 1,200 words on either “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond, or “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich.
Juniors and seniors can choose between “Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few” by Robert B. Reich, or “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” by Isabel Wilkerson, and submit a 1,000- to 1,600-word essay.
All submissions must be received by March 31, 2020.
“If America is going to remain a democracy, all of us need to recognize how political choices shape the economy,” says Vanderbilt University Law Professor Ganesh Sitaraman, a member of the Prospect’s Board of Directors. “These essays give high school students a chance to reflect on these choices and advocate for a better future.”
“The economic challenges we face at this moment are immense,” says Tracy Williams, a director on the Reimagining Capitalism team at the Omidyar Network. “We hope this competition encourages young people to imagine how they might craft creative solutions to make our economy more equitable and work better for all families.”
Prizes total $30,000: First place for juniors and seniors is $10,000; second place is $5,000; and third place is $2,500.
First place for freshmen and sophomores is $5,000; second place is $2,500; and third place is $1,000.
Forty honorable mentions will be awarded at $100 each. The Prospect will publish the winning essays at Prospect.org and feature a selection in the print edition.
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives.
Established in 2004 by philanthropists Pam and Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay, the organization has committed more than $1 billion to innovative for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations to catalyze economic and social change.
To learn more, visit Omidyar.com and follow on Twitter, @omidyarnetwork.
For more details, visit Prospect.org/EssayContest.