Discovering Me Essay Contest

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If you live in the Washington Metropolitan Region, are a teen girl between the ages of 14 and 17 and are growing up in a home without your biological father because your parent divorced, or separated and are no longer living together or they have never lived together, tell us how you have faced the challenge of father absence to achieve self-actualization and self-empowerment.


Enter Esther Productions Inc.’s DISCOVERING ME…WITHOUT YOU Personal Essay Contest 


Submissions are being accepted September 1, 2021 through October 31, 2021 at Midnight



CASH PRIZES will be awarded:


         $1,000 for 1st place;

         $500 for 2nd place;

         $200 for 3rd place and

         $50 for one honorable mention.


Top essays also will be published in a book to be released Spring 2022


  • Essays must be original and cannot contain the words of another person without giving that individual credit within the text of the essay.

  • Essays must be between  750 words and 1500 words;

  • Eessays must be written in English--the writer should indicate at submission if English is not her native language.

  • Essays must be typed with 12- point font, doubled spaced, printed only on one side of the paper; essays also may be submitted electronically as an attached pdf file.

  • Essays must have a cover page with the author’s name, age, home address and name of school.

  • Essays must also have a title of the essay on all pages; the author's name may not appear on any page other than the cover page

Printed/hard-copy of essays may also be mailed to Esther Productions Inc.—21570 Washington, DC 20009.

They must reach Esther Productions Inc. before the deadline.

Electronic submissions should be sent to (Put Discovering Me in the subject line)

Judges: Ana Acevedo holds a degree in psychology and is the Operations and Communications Manager at the Family Place Public Charter School; Patricia Bitondo is a board member of the Educational Foundation of the Woman’s National Democratic Club and a businesswoman; Ana R. Harvey is a former senior executive in President Barack Obama’s administration who focused on the development of women-owned businesses; Winfield Swanson is Director of Communications for the Woman’s National Democratic Club; Addison Switzer is an actor and CEO of BuckWild Media;


Consultants: Previous Discovering Me contests winners Miajah Spriggs,  a student at Benjamin Bannker Academic High School, and Aujinae Roberts-Fountain, a student at Clark-Atlanta CollegeThompson, will provide special workshops in September and October for persons interested in submitted to the 2021 contest.


Judging Criteria:

Essays will be judge using the following criteria and point system:

Originality—as attested by the author this is her story –20 points

Power and consistency of author’s voice—does the author’s voice as storyteller command attention and sustain that attention--15 points

Strength of writing-- are the paragraphs and sentences well-constructed; is there the proper usage of grammar; is the use of language strong; is it free of typos etc.--20 points

Articulation of issues and challenges related to father absence—does the author explain what problems she faced as a fatherless daughter—20 points

Description or presentation of compelling personal growth and development—what happened to the author as she sought to deal with father absence—25 points






For more information: or

Esther Productions, Inc. is a Washington, DC-based national nonprofit organization. Founded in 2004, it is dedicated to inspiring and empowering girls and women. It is supported through generous contributions from Kerry S. Pearson LLC, Emmanuel Bailey, Veterans Services Corp, Pepco, an Exelon Corporation, Fort Myer Construction Corporation Charitable Foundation and Esther’s Friends. Special Thanks to Youth Volunteer Alycea Gayle and  Arts and Marketing Consultant Afrika Abney.