President Gerald R. Ford Student Essay Challenge

Each year the theme for the President Gerald R. Ford Scholarship Essay Challenge reflects on an important part of Gerald R. Ford’s character. High school students from public, private, city, suburban, rural and home schools participate in the contest. Finalists are chosen and recognized at a special awards program at the Museum.

Click here for 2018 President Gerald R. Ford Student Essay Challenge Rules and Guidelines

The President Gerald R. Ford Essay Challenge is open to all 9th through 12th grade students. Review the rules and guidelines for the 500-750 word essay on the 2018 theme: courage.

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 own, everyday lives. Is there someone in history or in your own personal life that you believe exemplifies this character trait? Reflect on your interpretation of courage and share your thoughts in an essay.

Submit your 2018 Essay Online by March 12, 2018

NEW THIS YEAR! Students are invited to submit entries online. To enter online, please click link for online submission below. If mailing your essay, please submit to address provided below.

  • Easily submit your Essay today via our online submission by uploading a PDF
  • Or, submit your Essay by Mail to the following address by March 12, 2018:
    Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
    c/o Clare Shubert
    303 Pearl Street, NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Tips for a Successful Essay

Follow this link to find some helpful resources and suggestions for the pre-writing, writing, and revision process of your scholarship essay.


Utilize the following contacts for questions on the Essay Contest and submissions.

  • President Gerald R. Ford Scholarship Essay Contest Contacts
    Clare Shubert: / 616-254-0409
    Kailie West:

President Gerald R. Ford Essay Challenge previous year and past winners

2018 Finalists
Aunner Calderon, Union High School
Megan Grant, Newaygo Public High School
Aneeqa Hasan, Forest Hills Central High School
Carrie Hathaway, Geneseo Middle/High School (Out-of-State Finalist)
Emily LaRue, Grand Rapids Christian High School
Tina Nguyen, Forest Hills Eastern High School
Suki Rajan, Forest Hills Eastern High School
Ryann Reese, Ferndale High School
Melanie Roelofs, Plymouth Christian High School
Landyn Teachout, Grandville High School
Reian Zhang, City High Middle School

2017 Winners
First Place: Daisy Hagen, 11th Grade, Newaygo High School
Second Place: Maya Trowe, 12th Grade, Forest Hills Eastern High School
Third Place: Deena Hoffman, 12th Grade, Plymouth Christian High School

2017 President Gerald R. Ford Student Essay Challenge Finalists and Winners

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