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.

2019 President Gerald R. Ford Student Essay Challenge Rules and Guidelines (click here)

The President Gerald R. Ford Student Essay Challenge is open to all 9th through 12th grade students. Review the rules and guidelines for the 500-750 word essay on the 2019 theme: civility.

“I have always believed that most people are mostly good, most of the time.  I have never mistaken moderation for weakness, nor civility for surrender.  As far as I’m concerned, there are no enemies in politics–just temporary opponents who might vote with you on the next Roll Call.”
~ President Gerald R. Ford

We invite you to write a 500-750 word essay sharing your thoughts about civility. Some ideas include: What does civility mean to you? How might we create a sense of civility in both our social circles and our government? Have you had an experience where, through civility, people were able to find common ground? Is there someone you admire for their sense of civility?

Submit your 2019 Essay by March 11, 2019

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.

The 2019 deadline for submissions has passed. Due to the high volume of entries, finalists will be
notified by April 19th, 2019. Winning entries will be posted on this site in May.

  • 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 11, 2019:
    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

President Gerald R. Ford Essay 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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