President Gerald R. Ford Student Essay Challenge

Each year the theme for the President Gerald R. Ford Scholarship Writing 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.

2020 President Gerald R. Ford Student Writing Challenge Rules and Guidelines (click here)

“You never know what you can do, until you have to do it.” ~ First Lady Betty Ford
Throughout their lives, President Gerald Ford and First Lady Betty Ford showed their sense of determination and grit time and time again: by overcoming adversity in childhood, facing grave danger in WWII, beating cancer, overcoming substance abuse, and leading our country through one of the greatest Constitutional crises in its history. 

We invite you to write 500-750 words sharing your thoughts on the topic of determination.

Some ideas include: How do YOU define determination, grit, perseverance?
Tell about a time that your own determination was tested and you prevailed.
Is there someone in your life, or in history, that you admire for their determination?

Submit your 2020 Essay by March 13, 2020

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 by uploading a PDF via our online submission
  • Or, submit your Essay by Mail to the following address by March 13, 2020:
    Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
    c/o Clare Shubert
    303 Pearl Street, NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504


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

  • Clare Shubert: / 616-254-0409

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

2019 Winners (View photos from the 2019 awards program)

First Place: Caroline Kuntzman, Forest Hills Northern High School
Second Place: Megan Grant, Newaygo High School
Third Place: Ben Joppich, Catholic Central High School

Honorable Mentions:
Cecilia Botta, City High/Middle School
Cassandra DeVries, Providence Christian School
Danielle Fedrigo, Grand Rapids Christian High School
Josephine Koch, Forest Hills Northern High School
Katie Townley, Byron Center High School
Colton Powell, St. Johns High School
Brandon Walker, Wyoming High School

Out-of-State Award Winner:
Mason Chandler, Spring Branch Texas


2019 President Gerald R. Ford Student Essay Challenge Finalists and Winners

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