Image of hardcover copy of Profiles in Courage.

Contest Information and Topic Guidelines

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation invites US high school students to write an essay on an act of political courage by a US elected official who served during or after 1956.

Contest Information and Topic Guidelines
John F. Kennedy graduates from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 1940.

Eligibility and Requirements

The contest is open to United States high school students in grades nine through twelve attending public, private, parochial, or home schools; US students under the age of twenty enrolled in a high school correspondence/GED program; and US citizens attending schools overseas. 

Eligibility and Requirements
May 16, 2005, Kevin Zhou and Senator Edward Kennedy

Recognition and Awards

The first-place winner receives $10,000 comprised of a $5,000 cash award and $5,000 from John Hancock. The second-place winner receives $1,000. Up to five finalists receive $500 each.

Recognition and Awards
Margo Balboni, 2009 Profile In Courage Essay Contest Award Winner

Past Winning Essays

Read past winning essays to see examples of excellent submissions.

 

 

 

 

Past Winning Essays
John F. Kennedy sits and studies at his desk at Harvard, c. 1939.

Criteria for Judging

Submissions are evaluated on content (demonstrated understanding of political courage, originality, supporting evidence, source material) and presentation (quality of writing, organization, conventions.) Includes information about disqualifications.

Criteria for Judging
draft, Profiles in Courage

Prepare Your Essay

Resources to help you prepare an excellent essay: Elements of a Strong Essay, Helpful Tips for Writing, Guidelines for Citations and Bibliography, and Criteria for Judging.

Prepare Your Essay
May 16, 2005, Debra Plafker, Caroline Kennedy

Information for Teachers

Each student participant must have a “nominating teacher” to review the submission and provide support and advice during the research and writing process. The first-place winner and her/his nominating teacher will be invited to receive awards at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. 

Information for Teachers
Image of hardcover copy of Profiles in Courage.

Curriculum Ideas

Four classroom lessons with excerpts from Profiles in Courage and chapter summaries: 1) Defining Political Courage; 2) Examining Past "Profiles in Courage"; 3) Identifying Issues Requiring Political Courage; 4) Investigating Contemporary "Profiles in Courage."

Curriculum Ideas
signing

Registration and Submission

Please register for the contest when you are ready to submit your essay.

Registration and Submission
Matthew Waltman, first-place winner of the 2015 Profile in Courage Essay Contest.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to frequently asked questions about the contest topic and requirements, citations and bibliography, the role of the nominating teacher, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions
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John Hancock

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation gratefully acknowledges John Hancock for its generous support of the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest.

John Hancock