President Gerald R. Ford Essay Challenge
Rules, Guidelines & Timeline

Download PDF of Rules, Guidelines & Timeline


The President Gerald R. Ford Scholarship Essay Challenge is open to all 9th through 12th grade students. To enter, write a 500-750 word essay on the 2018 theme:

President Gerald R. Ford lived what many people would define as a life of courage. From overcoming family adversity as a child to standing up for his beliefs in college to becoming President of the United States during a time of deep political divide and social unrest, President Ford demonstrated tremendous courage. Examples of courage can be found all throughout our history as well as in our everyday lives. Is there someone in history or in your personal life that you believe exemplifies this character trait? Reflect on your interpretation of courage and share your thoughts in an essay.

New this year! Students may submit essays online at:

Submissions will still be accepted via U.S. Postal Service.

For Mailed Submissions:

  • Please send to:
    • Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
      Attn: Clare Shubert
      303 Pearl St. NW
      Grand Rapids, MI 49504-5353
  • All essays must be submitted on white 8 ½” x 11” paper.
  • A title page is required for each entry. It should include the following: student name,
    address, phone number, e-mail, grade, school, teacher’s name, school address and school phone.

For Essays Submitted Both Online and Via Mail:

  • Limit one entry per student, per school year.
  • Essays must be single-sided and double-spaced, using black ink. They should also include one-inch margins.
  • Judges will determine legibility of fonts and hand-written entries.
  • The sponsors reserve the right to interpret the scholarship essay rules and to make decisions concerning the awards in situations not covered by these rules.
  • Participation in the contest constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and
    acceptance of all official rules and guidelines, including eligibility requirements.

Entries must be submitted online OR postmarked by March 12, 2018.
No late entries will be accepted.


Winners will be selected based on adherence to the theme, quality of their narrative, originality of the essay, as well as their proper use of grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Judges will select the top three entries. Judges also reserve the right to select up to four honorable mention recipients. One out-of-state student will be chosen for an award. All of these decisions made by the judges are final.

Essays will be reviewed by judges comprised of leaders of a civic, education, and/or business background.

Finalists will be notified no later than April 13, 2018 of the Essay Challenge results. Participating sponsors are not responsible for lost, late, misdirected, illegible, incomplete essays, or essays that do not follow all rules and guidelines.

Essays will not be returned to students following the Essay Challenge.


9th-12th grade students living in the United States are eligible to apply for this scholarship.

Household members and/or children of the employees of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation are not eligible.

By participating in the essay challenge, each contestant agrees to comply with these rules and further agrees to accept the decision of the judges as final and binding. Parents or guardians of the finalists will be required to sign and submit a publicity consent form as a condition of a student’s participation in this contest.


Students from Michigan who submit their essay are eligible to receive the following awards:

  • First Place: $1,000 scholarship plus a $500 Meijer gift card for student’s teacher
  • Second Place: $750 scholarship plus a $250 Meijer gift card for student’s teacher
  • Third Place: $500 scholarship plus a $100 Meijer gift card for student’s teacher
  • Up to 4 Honorable Mentions: $250 scholarship each

One $500 award will be given to a submitting student living outside of Michigan.

Special thanks to Meijer for providing our teacher gift awards!


  • Entries should be submitted online or postmarked no later than March 12, 2018.
  • Winners will be notified by April 13, 2018.
  • An award ceremony will be held at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in May of 2018 to celebrate all finalists. (Exact date TBD)


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