Essay contest gives participants until March 31 to win up to $10,000

Sophomores and freshmen can win up to $5,000.


Open to high school students across the country 

Read a book, write an essay, and you just might win part of $30,000 in cash prizes 

High school juniors and seniors may write 1,000 to 1,600 words on one of these two books:

High school freshmen and sophomores may write up to 1,200 words on one of these two books:

Winners will be awarded for first, second and third place at both levels, with up to 40 additional honorable mentions. The Prospect will publish all the winning essays online at, with a selection in print.

The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2020.


  • Read the introductory essay (linked below).
  • Choose one book to read.
  • Review the questions for the book you choose (linked below).
  • Submit your essay along with your verifiable contact information through this form.
  • Fill out the brief survey on the experience, and we will take it from there!

Introductory Essay 

What Kind of Economy Works Best? The Interplay of Markets and Democracy  (link)

Essay questions for Juniors and Seniors 

Essay questions for Freshman and Sophomores 


  • Juniors and Seniors: First place $10,000; second place $5,000; third place $2,500. Honorable mentions: 20 at $100 each.
  • Freshmen and Sophomores: First place $5,000; second place $2,500; third place $1,000. Honorable mentions: 20 at $100 each.

This essay contest is a partnership between The American Prospect and Omidyar Network, 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, and follow on Twitter @omidyarnetwork.

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