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Essay Contest For Westchester Students

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November 6, 2023

Lifting Up Westchester, a non-profit agency committed to helping individuals experiencing homelessness and hunger achieve self-sufficiency, announces their seventh annual high school student essay contest.  Open to all students attending school in Westchester in the 7th to 12th grades, this year’s contest is called Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes, because we are asking students to learn about the different programs offered by Lifting Up Westchester and to write a narrative about someone who accessed and benefited from one of those programs.  As students write their story, we are asking them to think about whether this individual or family experienced implicit bias as they sought help. The student’s story can be inspired by real events, such as someone they know, have seen in school, in their community or in their travels.  Alternatively, the story can come from the student’s imagination.

The essay contest was established in 2017 in memory of Beth Massey Rubens, a lifelong teacher, tutor, and mentor who had a love for language arts.

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“Many individuals have preconceived ideas, even an implicit bias, about what a homeless individual looks like, who might need food from a ‘soup kitchen,’ why some children need extra tutoring and mentoring or why some individuals need help in finding employment,” said Anahaita Kotva, CEO of Lifting Up Westchester.  “By inviting students to spend time ‘walking in someone else’s shoes,’ we hope to dispel some of the myths and stereotypes associated with the men, women, children and families we serve.”

First, second and third place cash prizes will be awarded in each of the three grade groups:  7th and 8th, 9th and 10th, and 11th and 12th. First prize in each category is $500, second prize is $250, and third prize is $100.

The contest kicks off November 6, 2023, and students can enter until February 16, 2024, at 5 PM.  Students can enter the contest through the dedicated portal and upload their essays here.  Winners will be announced in early March 2024 and an awards ceremony will take place April 14, 2023.  Students, teachers, and parents can learn more about how the contest works and review the judging process and criteria by visiting Lifting Up Westchester’s website.

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