International Essay Contest

The Institute for Youth in Policy International Essay Writing Contest is an opportunity for students to use their voice and writing ability in order to think critically about the state of politics in their country and declare the change they hope to see, all while competing for cash prizes and opportunities to get their writing published!

Two pictures of YIP employees on the annual company Zoom call, smiling as they listen to yearly updates.

Generation of Changemakers

Create innovative solutions to real-world problems

Tell your story and your perspective

Research issues important to you

Get recognized for your writing

Win prizes for your outstanding work

Get published for your writing

Our Mission

We launched the Institute for Youth in Policy International Essay Contest as a way to engage and empower students to think critically about the issues that matter to them. By providing a platform for students to express their ideas and opinions, we aim to encourage the next generation of leaders to become more informed and civically engaged citizens. 

Additionally, the contest may serve as a way to spotlight valuable insights and ideas from young people around the world. By encouraging students to write about the issues that concern them, our competition may help a general audience to better understand the priorities and perspectives of students. 

Ultimately, the Institute for Youth in Policy International Essay Contest may be seen as an opportunity for the Institute to invest in the future by supporting and uplifting the voices of young people, and by fostering a sense of civic engagement and social responsibility in the next generation.

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Prizes will be awarded to participants for the overall quality of their essays. Prizes for first, second and third place winner are as follows:

As the First Place winner of our international essay contest, you will be given the opportunity to publish your essay in the Institute’s academic journal, the Journal of Policy Analysis, as well as on our website, giving you the chance to showcase your writing to a wide audience and make a real impact with your words. Additionally, the First Place winner will also receive a $250 prize and a special winner's certificate to recognize their incredible achievement.
The Second Place winner will also be afforded the opportunity to publish their essay on the Institute’s website in order to showcase their writing and ideas. In addition, they will receive a certificate of recognition as the Second Place winner to commemorate their achievement.
The Third Place winner will also be given the opportunity to publish their essay on our website and to receive a certificate recognizing their achievement.


Henry Widjaja is a junior at Cupertino High School in California, interested in Political Science and Business/Economics. He is Indochinese and a first-generation American, who is passionate about public speaking, and uses his voice to amplify students. He is involved in a speech-centric nonprofit and works with the local city council to develop policies that address community issues. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, playing the cello, and learning to fly planes.


Lauren Thomas is a high school senior in Arlington, Virginia who is interested in furthering her studies in public policy and government with a potential minor in international relations. She is actively engaged in youth political organizations, Model UN, and is Co-Head/Co-Founder of her school's Victory Garden Club, which aims to combat food insecurity through growing produce.


Ava is a highschool senior passionate about social justice and the environment. They are a writer, editor of two school newspapers, and head of The Association for White Anti-Racist Education at their school. They have worked on political campaigns and are a varsity field hockey player. Ava plans to continue their involvement in these activities in college.


Emmanouil Vourvahakis is a second-year student at the University of Melbourne undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in politics, international studies, and anthropology. He is the Director of Educational Outreach in YIP’s Civic Innovations Department and is involved with several other youth organizations. Emmanouil is passionate about national security and seeks to pursue a career in the Australian Government.


Brandon Tran is a sophomore at USC majoring in Political Science and minoring in Organizational Leadership and Management. He is a first-generation college student and American, and works with YIP to study and reduce political polarization. He is also a member of No Labels' Youth Congress and enjoys playing sports, watching movies, and writing in his free time.


Isabella Romeu is a first-year student at The University of Chicago majoring in English and Creative Writing. She is a Cuban first-generation American with a passion for politics, social justice, and criminal justice, which she hopes to reflect in her professional work. Isabella is involved in several organizations, such as the Justice Education Project (JEP) and Project Patriarchy, where her work has been published in Teen Vogue. In her free time, she enjoys journaling, reading, and thrifting.

Join the team

Outreach Coordinator


Communication, Negotiation, Networking, Marketing



Outreach Coordinators will be working to direct the outreach and communication sector of the YIP International Essay Contest. Individuals would be responsible for reaching out to academic institutions and/or corporate entities while engaging in productive communication with other team members. It’s expected that Outreach Coordinators will spend around 10 hours a week divided into team brainstorming and working on individual tasks pertinent to networking and communication strategy.

Logistics Coordinator


Communication, Networking, Multitasking, Strategic Planning



Logistics Coordinators will be working to streamline the outreach and execution of the YIP International Essay Contest. Individuals would be responsible for the strategic planning and management of the contest while engaging in productive communication with other team members. It’s expected that Logistics Coordinators will spend around 5 hours a week divided into team communication and working on individual tasks pertinent to contest logistics.

Essay Prompt

Countless countries around the world suffer from a plethora of issues – economic hardship, social turmoil, political polarization, pandemic recovery, unreliable leadership, corrupt governance, warfare and conflict, the list goes on. If you were elected the leader of your country, what would you do to address the issues your country faces in order to build a more prosperous society?

Essays will be evaluated according to…

  • Insight: Does the essay provide unique or interesting insights, analysis or perspectives on its subject matter?
  • Impact: Is the significance or impact of the issue(s) being discussed, idea(s) being brought up, or point-of-views being communicated sufficiently captured in the essay?
  • Clarity and organization: Is the essay easy to understand, with a clear and logical flow?
  • Style: Is the essay engaging and well-written, with appropriate yet compelling tone, language and syntax for the subject matter?

Who Can Participate?

  • Any student, in any country, who is enrolled in an accredited high school or college/university at the time of submitting their essay is eligible to participate in the Institute for Youth in Policy International Essay Contest and compete for the prizes. Students taking academic gap years or semesters are also eligible. No current employees of the Institute for Youth in Policy, however, will be permitted to enter the contest.

Submission Guidelines

  • Essays can take the form of anything from an analytical research paper to a personal narrative to allegorical fiction. This means essays can be written in any citation style or with no citations at all if it is not a research-heavy paper. 
  • Word Limit: 1250 words
  • Submission Deadline: June 1st, 2022
  • All essays should be submitted as a .docx or a PDF document.
  • All essays should include your name as well as a title for your essay. Cover pages are acceptable but not necessary.
  • Essays should be written in an easily readable font size (11 or 12 pt.) with a professional font style (Times New Roman, Arial, etc.). 

Coming Soon!

Thank you for your interest in the Institute for Youth in Policy International Essay Contest. We look forward to receiving your submission! A submission portal will open on this page on March 31st, 2023. Until then, please don’t hesitate to contact [email protected] if you have any questions. You can also follow our social media to stay up to date on contest details and to learn more about other Institute for Youth in Policy initiatives!