Discovering Me Essay Contest







1st Place: Miajah Spriggs

2nd Place:  Au'jinae Roberts-Fountain

3rd Place: Selah White-Smith

Honorable Mentions: Kayla Cabeza-Reyes, E'riel Davis, Empress Swift


1st Place: Cara Hadden

2ndPlace: Marley McDonald

3rd Place: Amillyah Barnes-Wimberly

Honorable Mentions: Gabriel McCrea, Ayisha Ferguson, Armani Bailey.



Tell us how you have faced the challenge of father absence to achieve self-empowerment in your life.

YOU ARE ELIGIBLE TO ENTER Esther Productions Inc.’s DISCOVERING ME…WITHOUT YOU Personal Essay Contest 

               If you live in the DMV;


              If you are a teen girl between the ages of 14 and 17; and


             If you are growing up in a home without the daily presence or active engagement of your biological father because your parents are divorced; or your parents are separated and no longer live together; or your parents have never lived together; or your father is incarcerated; or your father died early in your life.

SUBMISSIONS WILL BE ACCEPTED FROM September 1, 2021 through October 31, 2021 at Midnight


         Ist Place--- $1,000

         2nd Place-- $500 

         3rd Place-- $200 

         Honorable Mention--$50 

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



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

  • Essays must be original and use proper citation(s); they 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;

  • Essays 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 may be submitted electronically either as a doc. or pdf file


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

They must reach Esther Productions Inc. before the deadline, which is Midnight-October 31, 2021.

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



ORIGINALITY--Has the author demonstrated through writing that the essay is her original story 20 points

POWER AND CONSISTENCY OF AUTHOR'S VOICE--Does the author's voice as a storyteller command and sustain the reader's/judge's attention 15 points

STRENGTH OF WRITING--Are the sentences and paragraphs well constructed; is there a strong use of language; is there proper use of grammar; and is the essay free of typos 20 points

ARTICULATION OF ISSUES AND CHALLENGES RELATED TO FATHER ABSENCE--Does the author explain in clear, coherent sentences and language what challenge(s) she faces of have faced as a fatherless daughter 20 points

EVIDENCE OF COMPELLING PERSONAL GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT--Does the author present in the essay information about how the challenge of father absence has helped her personal development or how it has shaped her life 25 points


Ana Acevedo holds a degree in psychology and is a manager in the DC government; 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; Alicia Henry, former nonprofit executive; Winfield Swanson is Director of Communications for the Woman’s National Democratic Club; Addison Switzer is an actor and CEO of BuckWild Media; Shelley Livingston has been active in several social and progressive causes and organizations, including Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington and the Woman's National Democratic Club and  Jerry Malmo, a recently retired as the Director of Civil Enforcement for the Office of Trade with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, capping a 32 career with the federal government.  

Program Consultants: Past Discovering Me contests winners Miajah Spriggs,  a student at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, and Au'jinae Roberts-Fountain, a student at Clark Atlanta University, will provide special workshops in September and October for persons interested in submitting to the 2021 contest. Afrika Abney is a marketing and promotions consultant.

Program Staff: jonetta rose barras and Alycea Gayle (Youth Volunteer Coordinator)



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, especially those who are growing up or have grown up without the presence and active involvement of their fathers in their lives.  Esther Productions Inc. is supported through generous contributions from Kerry S. Pearson LLC, Emmanuel Bailey- Veterans Services Corp, Fort Myer Construction Corporation Charitable Foundation, Pepco, An Exelon Corporation, Neil Albert, Brett Greene-American Management Corporation, Martin Smith-Best Messenger/DC Chapter of Executive Women International, Donna Sanders and Esther’s Friends.