Essay Contest


If you live in the Washington Metropolitan Region, are a teen girl between the ages of 14 and 17 and are growing up without your father in your home, 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 Second Annual Personal Essay Contest 


Submissions are being accepted October 1, 2020 through December 15, 2020--Midnight


NEW! There will be $$ CASH PRIZES $$ --$1,000 for 1st place; $500 for 2nd place, $200 for 3rd place and

$50 for one honorable mention. Also all essays selected as finalists will be published in a book to be released Spring 2021


  • 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 1000 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 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 may only contain personal information on the cover page—

  •  Essays must include the name/title of the essay on all pages.

The printed/hard-copy of essays should be mailed to Esther Productions Inc.—21570 Washington, DC 20009.


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; Brenda Miller is Executive Director of the DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy;  Winfield Swanson is Director of Communications for the Woman’s National Democratic Club; Addison Switzer is an actor and CEO of BuckWild Media; and Miajah Spriggs is a student at Benjamin Bannker Academic High School who won the First Place Award in the 2019 Discovering Me... essay contest.  


Judging Criteria:


Essays will be judge using the following criteria and point system in making their selections:


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--20 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.--25 points


Articulation of issues and challenges related to father absence—does the author explain what problems she faced as a fatherless daughter—15 points


Description or presentation of compelling personal growth and development—what happened to the author as she sought to deal with father absence—20 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: Afrika Abney, Arts and Marketing Consultant

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