Define Diversity Essay Contest

Essay Contest

Each year, first-year students are invited to share their reflections on the First-Year Text in what might be their first college essay. This is an opportunity to engage a piece of written work and relate it to the themes that define a Loyola education:

  • Diversity
  • Educating the Whole Person
  • Faith
  • Global Awareness
  • Intellectual Inquiry
  • Men and Women for Others
  • Pursuit of Excellence
  • Seeking God in All Things
  • Service to Humanity
  • Social Justice
  • Values-Based Leadership

Contest Rules

Length & Content

Your Year 1 Essay should be 400–600 words. It is a reflection on the First-Year Text, Showdown by Wil Haygood, and how it connects to the themes and values of a Loyola education. You may use any of the above values, such as Social Justice, Service to Humanity or Values-Based Leadership. Personal anecdotes and reflections are welcome.


Please submit your essay by Monday, September 18, 2017 11:59pm at Remember to include your name, cell phone number, and email address so we can contact you if you are a finalist in the contest.


Submissions to the Year 1 Essay Contest can be considered for one or both prizes:

(1) All essays submitted are eligible for an opportunity to read a portion of their essay at a Loyola University Campus Event  and

(2) Book Scholarship: To be eligible to win a book scholarship to pay for all text books for the spring semester, essay writers can read a portion of their essay to be voted on by fellow students at a September 21st Communities in Conversation event.  The reader receiving the most student votes will be awarded the book scholarship.  To be invited to read at the event, an essay must be submitted by the September 18th deadline.  

Please send any questions to

2016 Essay Contest Winners

  • Madeline Hudson 

  • Sarah Rybacki

Connect with B'nai B'rith:

The Impact of Diverse Minds

Hear it from a principal of a Diverse Minds Writing Challenge winner on the positive effect the contest has in the communities in which it is held:
I just wanted to follow up on the teacher grant portion of Sylvia Yu's Diverse Minds book competition award. I'm attaching photos of Claudia Rankin's book "Citizen," which the funds helped purchase for our poetry workshop and American literature classes.

Below that is a photograph of author Patricia Park speaking to three classes of Stuyvesant seniors about her Korean-American adaptation of "Jane Eyre," titled "Re: Jane."

Because of your grant, we were able to pay her a small but meaningful honorarium. Exposure to Rankin's moving meditation on her experience as an African American woman and to a novelist who so movingly articulates so many of the experiences of our first and second generation immigrant students surely extends the mission of your organization, and I look forward to keeping in touch about other uses of the generous grant.

​Thank you again! It has brought me such joy to think of your mission at this time of national division and I look forward to continuing to use it to celebrate as many diverse voices as I can. 
Dr. Emily Moore, Principal
Stuyvesant High School in New York, N.Y.

Diverse Minds In The Media

TODAY Show Toy Drive 

The 2013 holiday season means another year of cheer to young readers across the country. For the fourth year, B’nai B’rith participated in the annual Today Show Toy Drive, donating 600 books to four charities. 

The books are written and illustrated by high school students as part of our Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge to help grade school children celebrate tolerance and diversity. In New York City, B’nai B’rith sent the donated books to AHRC New York City and Inwood House. In the Midwest, we shipped books to Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Detroit and One Heartland in Willow River, Minn.

During our four years of participation, B’nai B’rith has worked with the Today Show Toy Drive to distribute 2,400 copies of B’nai B’rith’s original children’s books across the country to charities, libraries and Boys and Girls Clubs. We are excited to once again be a part of this wonderful holiday endeavor.

List Of Winners

Contact Us

Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge
B'nai B'rith International 

4605 Lankershim Blvd, Suite 710
Los Angeles, CA 91602


Phone: 1-323-308-0195
For media inquires, please contact

If you are with a foundation or corporation that would like more information about sponsoring the Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge in your city, or you are with a non-profit community organization who would like to receive donated books, please contact Melanie Marconi at or 323-308-0195.


Washington D.C. Metro Area, Delaware/ Delmarva Peninsula and South Jersey Program:
Previous sponsors have also included:

Connect with Diverse Minds

Diverse Minds Writing Challenge

Now celebrating its 12th Anniversary!

The Diverse Minds Writing Challenge is an education and awareness initiative created by B'nai B'rith International as one of its programs to promote tolerance and communicate a message of equality among all citizens, regardless of race, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation. Our goal is to destroy prejudices and strengthen the future of our youth through creativity, inspiration and education.

This innovative scholarship competition asks high school students to write and illustrate a children's book that tells a story of tolerance, diversity or inclusion. Executed through public, private and charter high schools in select communities, the Challenge encourages teens to create innovative ways to teach tolerance to elementary-aged children, as well as encounter new insights into these issues for themselves.

The contest winner in each contest city/region will receive a $5,000 college scholarship and become a published author! 
Watch the winner of this year’s Diverse Minds Writing Challenge in the D.C.-metro area Ariya Feng, a junior at Thomas Sprigg Wootton High School in Rockville, Md., read her winning book: "What Makes Me Beautiful."
Watch award-winning illustrator Shadra Strickland address D.C.-area finalists, giving an inspiring speech on her journey to becoming a published illustrator and the importance of perseverance and not giving up on your dreams.


Check out the Diverse Minds Writing Challenge in the New York City-metro area winners Yingchao He and Trinh Nguyen, seniors at Bronx High School of Science in Bronx, N.Y.reading their winning and now-published book “I’m Going to Be Me."

Download the 2017 Winning Books

Delmarva Peninsula Winner

Southern New Jersey Winner
South Jersey contest winner: The dragon who teaches tolerance
King Firemarth is falling down a cliff.

The drop is long, and the king is certain of his death until a friendly dragon scoops him up and deposits him safely on level ground.

The unexpected rescue teaches Firemarth, who had previously feared the dragon - and all different-looking beasts in the kingdom - that "you shouldn't deny someone respect simply because they're different."

So goes The Legend of Firemarth, a children's book written and illustrated by Paulsboro High School sophomore Samson Beaver, who took home first prize this week in B'nai B'rith's "Diverse Minds Writing Challenge" in South Jersey.

Beaver's prize was a $5,000 college scholarship he hopes to eventually put toward art school. And 1,000 copies of The Legend of Firemarth will be professionally printed and distributed to local schools, libraries, and community organizations.

Mcgraw-Hill Education Partners With B'nai B'rith To Bring Diversity Writing Challenge To Columbus High School Students
Last week, McGraw-Hill Education partnered with B’nai B’rith International to host the first Columbus Diverse Minds Youth Writing Challenge. Ten students from Olentangy Orange, New Albany and Westerville Central high schools were finalists in the children’s book writing and illustration contest. Winning students were recognized during a ceremony at the Thurber House.
For Columbus’ inaugural event, B’nai B’rith worked in partnership with McGraw-Hill Education. This education and awareness initiative was created as part of B’nai B’rith programming that promotes tolerance and communicates a message of equality among all citizens.

The finalists and winners were recognized and congratulated by McGraw-Hill Education senior vice president Lisa Carmona and B’nai B’rith International board of governors member Peter Perlman.

In addition, Ba and McCloskey’s teacher, who oversaw the creation of their winning book, will receive a $500 stipend to use for classroom or organizational materials. Olentangy Orange High School will also receive a $500 grant.
Watch the following video of previous winner of the B'nai B'rith Diverse Minds Writing Challenge Kristina Rudulfo discuss her experience with the contest, becoming a published author, and how her book teaches lessons of tolerance and diversity.
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