Announcing the 2012 Young Patriots Essay Contest!

The National Center for Policy Analysis and Debate Central are proud to announce the 2012 Young Patriots Essay Contest!

The topic of this year’s essay contest is:  “What is the proper role of the government in insuring people against major social risks?”

This year’s topic addresses government social insurance for the risks that everyone faces.   “For as long as there have been human societies, people have faced these same risks,” said John C. Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis:

  • The risk of growing too old and outliving their assets.
  • The risk of dying young and leaving their dependents with inadequate resources.
  • The risk of becoming disabled and unable to work and produce.
  • The risk of becoming unemployed and finding there is no market for their skills.”


The Young Patriots Essay Contest is designed to challenge high school students to creatively solve problems in the realm of public policy through the art of writing. We assign a controversial topic each year and only THREE winners are chosen out of hundreds of essay submissions.

Entrants have the opportunity to:

  • Earn a college scholarship of up to $5,000
  • Have your essay published on Debate Central
  • See your essay posted on the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA) home page
  • Have your essay shared with 350,000 NCPA Policy Patriots via email
  • Have your winning entry be sent to your hometown newspapers, radio and TV.

Your essay should be written in English and should not exceed 1,200 words.  For more guidelines on submission and formatting of entries, see below. All essays must be submitted by Friday, November 23 at 11:00pm. No late submissions will be accepted.

Young Patriots Submission Guidelines

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q. How should I format my entry?

A. Essays should be written in English, with submissions of up to 1,200 words. Essays exceeding this length will not be considered. Please submit your entry as a Microsoft Word document.

Also be sure to include all essential information, including your name, address, phone number(s) and e-mail address in the body of the e-mail.

Q. How do I submit my entry?

E-mail your submission to

Each e-mail submission will receive a return message verifying that the essay was received.

Q. What happens if I exceed the word limit?

A. Your essay will not be considered. There is no word minimum.

Q. Can I choose to remain anonymous?

A. No. We must be able to publish both your essay and name.

Q. How should I format citations?

A. In the Modern Language Association (MLA) format. Citations should be listed in a ‘Works Cited’ page at the end of the document. An example of a citation in this format from a web resource is listed below:

Goodman, John. What is Wrong with the Drug Industry? John Goodman’s Health Policy Blog. National Center for Policy Analysis, 23 Sept. 2011. Web. 24 Sep. 2011. ‹›.

For additional citation questions please consult Purdue University’s free online formatting and style guide.

Q. Do I need to attach a cover letter?

A. No.

Q. Is there anything else you can tell me about how to stand out from the crowd?

A. Yes. Here are a few suggestions for participants:

  • Stick to the subject and topic. Submitting your essay in the proper format is essential, but the substance of your essay is the most important part. If you write a fantastic essay that doesn’t address the central question you won’t win.
  • Submit a professional document. Double check grammar and spelling and try to make rambling sentences more concise.
  • Follow and demonstrate a clear vision. This contest leaves lots of room to address the subject in a variety of ways. Students should attempt to be creative, clear and persuasive in their approach to the topic.

Q. Is there just one prize?

A. No. First, second and third prizes will be awarded in the amounts of $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000 respectively.


About Lauren Sabino

Lauren Sabino is the Director of Youth Programs at the National Center for Policy Analysis. She currently administrates Debate Central, the largest free online debate resource.
This entry was posted in New Message for You!, New Resources!, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

59 Responses to Announcing the 2012 Young Patriots Essay Contest!

  1. Shelby says:

    Will the citations be included in the 1200 word limit?

  2. lsabino says:

    Hi Shelby — Citations are not included in the limit. Good luck!

  3. Luke says:

    Is there an age limit to this contest?

    • lsabino says:

      Entrants must be high school students currently enrolled in high school classes. Let us know if you have any other questions!

  4. Joe says:

    Is some sort of aplication required, or can I just begin my essay and send it in? thank you for this opportunity!

    • lsabino says:

      You do not need to submit a formal application or a cover letter. Simply attach your essay to an e-mail. You should include your name, address, and year in school to verify that you are a high school student. Let us know if you have any other questions!

  5. Kirby says:

    So, should the esssay itself be written in MLA format? Or is it just the citation(s)? Can we use any use any font, or just Times New Roman? Should it be 12 point and Double Spaced?

    • lsabino says:

      You will need to format your citations in MLA, but the entire essay isn’t graded on your ability to adhere to MLA conventions. Please use Times New Roman, 12 point. You do not need to double space. Thanks, and good luck!

  6. Lauren says:

    When is the essay due to be considered for the scholarship?

  7. lsabino says:

    Hi Lauren — You will need to turn it in by 11:00pm on November 23, 2012. Good luck!

  8. Oliver says:

    Is a minimum limit to how many citations we must have?

  9. Erica says:

    Do I have to stick to one of the four, bullets, following the topic, or can I pick my own?

    • lsabino says:

      Hi Erica,

      Those bullet points are mostly meant for explanation, but they do represent the social insurance programs that we’d like to concentrate on with this contest. In order for your essay to be considered “on-topic,” you shouldn’t dismiss them entirely. You can feel free to add more examples, though, to highlight your point.

  10. Nany Mashi says:

    Can international high school student join this contest?

  11. Melissa says:

    Do we need to address all bullet points in the essay? Or only one?

    • lsabino says:

      You can feel free to be more general. You do not need to talk about every instance specifically. Just make sure you’re addressing the central question about the role of government in managing social risk. Thanks, and good luck!

  12. Brooke says:

    We have to have our name, address, e-mail, etc on it, are those included in the word count?

    You said it needs to be turned in at 11:00 pm on November 23, 2012. What is the time zone for that time?

    • lsabino says:

      Hi Brooke,

      Include all identifying information (name, etc.) in the text of the e-mail. They do not count towards total word count. 11:00pm is Eastern Time. Thanks, and good luck!

  13. Karla says:

    Is US citizenship require to apply for this scholarship?

  14. Katie says:

    Are citations mandatory? Or can we use general knowledge only?

    • lsabino says:

      Hi Katie,

      You can choose to use outside research or not. You do not need to cite general knowledge (facts such as, George Washington was president or the sky is blue.)

  15. Lauren M. says:

    If I am enrolled in a US high school but I plan on attending a university overseas, do I still qualify?

  16. Lauren says:

    What is the email address we should send it to?

  17. Greer says:

    For our citations do you want us to embed our referneces with our quotes?

  18. Vanna says:

    Above it says “Policy Analysis” is this essay to be written like a policy debate, should we be proposing a plan? Is a plan off-limits like a Public Forum debate?
    Thank you

    • lsabino says:

      Hi Vanna,

      Even though this is a Debate Central contest, you should think of this more like a school paper. You can provide a plan, but you don’t need to. It’s really up to you, depending on what you want to argue. Good luck!

  19. Chezalyn says:

    What type of essay is this? (Narrative, expository, persuasive) etc. Also, what is our essay going to be judged on? Can you send a rubric?

    • lsabino says:

      Hi Chezalyn,

      This is persuasive essay. Entrants are asked to consider an answer to the topic question and persuasively justify said answer. Essays will be judged on the criteria above listed — relevance, persuasiveness, and professionalism. Entrants must obey all guidelines regarding length and citation style to qualify. Good luck!

  20. Shannon says:

    Does is matter which level, local, state, or federal government that is addressing social risks in the essay, or does the topic pertain to all government in general?

    • lsabino says:

      Hi Shannon,

      The topic is about government in general, but you should feel free to address whatever programs and policies interest you in this area. Good luck!

  21. Anthony says:

    Are there past winners’ essays that we can have a look at?

  22. Paige says:

    What date will the applicants be notified – and will all winners and those not selected be notified?

  23. Sergio says:

    Should we include in-text-citations? If so, will they be included in our total word count?

    • lsabino says:

      Hi Sergio,

      You need to include a Works Cited page and in-text citations. They will be included in your Word Count. Good luck!

  24. Abby says:

    are we requiredto have citations if we do not use any sources?

    • lsabino says:

      Hi Abby,

      If you don’t use any outside sources, you won’t need to cite anything. There’s no mandatory minimum amount of citations. Good luck!

  25. Abby says:

    what is the link to turn in the essay? i cant find it

  26. lsabino says:

    Hi Abby,

    To turn in the essay, simply e-mail it as an attachment to

    Make sure to include your name, address, phone number, and year in school. Thanks!

  27. Anthony says:

    I never received my verification e-mail…

    • lsabino says:

      Hi Anthony,

      Great question. We were out of the office for the Thanksgiving holiday 11/21-11/23. If you sent your essay during that time, you should have received a confirmation today. If you still have not received it, please let us know and we’ll work to resolve the issue. Thanks!

  28. Julia says:

    I emailed my essay to the address above on November 23. However, I got an email back yesterday (27th)saying that it was unable to be delivered. Is there any chance that I can still submit it? Thank you for your consideration.

  29. Manuel Gonzalez says:

    When will the winner be chosen, or has it been chosen already?

  30. Paige says:

    Hi – have winners been chosen yet and if not when and how will the notification happen?

  31. Brianna says:

    If I will be a college freshman in the fall, but am a senior in high school now, do I qualify for this scholarship?

  32. Lauren Sabino says:

    Hi Paige, Brianna, and Manuel,

    As you can see on the landing page, entries have closed and winners have been selected. Unfortunately, you will no longer be able to enter for this year. Please be on the lookout for future contests, however, and thank you for your interest in our contests and resources!

  33. Adam Loga says:

    I am the third place winner of the Young Patriots Essay Contest and I was wondering what rules and conditions were placed upon the prize checks. Could someone please help me out?

  34. teria says:

    What happens if I go over the 1,200 words.

  35. Kim says:

    Will there be an upcoming scholarship in the year of 2013? I found this off of only to find out that I was too late.

    • Lauren Sabino says:

      Hi Kim,

      I’m sorry to hear you missed the 2012 contest. We will likely announce the 2013 version in August or September. Keep checking back to Debate Central for updates or, if you prefer, subscribe to our newsletter to receive this information via e-mail. Thank you for your interest in the Young Patriots Essay Contest!

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