Student Voices Competition 2024

Cincinnati Public Radio & 91.7 WVXU’s Democracy & Me outreach program is pleased to announce that this year’s Student Voices Competition is officially here!

Open to area high school students and supported by The Charles H. Dater Foundation, the Student Voices Competition encourages creativity, thoughtful introspection, and diverse perspectives on a topic relevant to today’s students.

Using the contest prompt, students are encouraged to author an essay, or, submit multimedia work. We will feature all the top-scoring finalists on our website, and top candidates will be invited to display their work during the a special episode of the Democracy & Z Podcast.

Need some inspiration? Check out last year’s winners

This Year’s Prompt:

“People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.” James Baldwin, 1955 

What is your personal history and how does it inform your future? For this year’s contest, interpret Baldwin’s quote as it applies to you (and/or your generation) and describe meaningful triumphs or mistakes from the past that you will you use as motivation to achieve your goals in the present and future.  


  • A $1,000 prize for the best essay
  • A $1,000 prize for the best creative entry (artwork, audio, video or other)
  • $500 for one outstanding runner-up in any category
  • $500 will go to a randomly selected teacher/adviser with students participating in the contest


  • Entries must be original work by an individual student in grades 8-12
  • Written essays can be no more than 500 words
  • Entries in other media (audio or video) can be no longer than 3 minutes; for artwork, up to three pieces on a single theme may be submitted
  • The use of valid sources to support the author’s theme will be considered in the judging, along with originality of thought and quality of expression


  • The contest will close at midnight on April 5, 2024, 11:59 p.m. EST
  • To upload your entry, please fill out this form  and follow the upload instructions
  • Experiencing issues with your upload or submission form? Please don’t hesitate to contact or and we’ll be happy to assist.

A Bonus For Teachers!

  • Teachers of students submitting essays to the competition will be included in a random drawing to win a $500 cash prize to utilize in their classroom (physical or virtual). Teachers with multiple students participating will receive an entry for each student. One winner will be selected at random prior to April 10, 2024

Official Rules:

  1. How to Enter
    No Purchase Necessary. Promotion begins at 12:00 AM ET on February 14, 2024, and ends at 11:59 PM ET on April 5, 2024. To enter the competition, visit the Democracy & Me website at You will be automatically entered in the competition when you provide your name, and email address, school and teacher information, and upload your entry via the submission form provided at You must provide all information required on the form in addition to the submitted entry. Essays must be a student’s original work and no longer than 500 words. Audio or video entries can be no longer than 3 minutes. For artwork, up to 3 pieces on a single theme may be submitted. Digital submissions only; no mail-in submissions accepted. Limit one entry per person or e-mail address, regardless of method of entry. No responsibility is assumed by the Sponsor for lost, late, damaged, incomplete, stolen, postage due, illegible, or misdirected mail, or for human error or any computer, online, telephone, or technical malfunctions that may occur. All entries become the property of Cincinnati Public Radio and will not be returned. All teachers’ names included in the entries submitted will be placed in a random drawing.
  2. Winner Selection/Announcement Dates
    Entries will be reviewed and winners selected by a judging team identified by WVXU, utilizing the competition’s judging rubrics. All teachers’ names received in entry submissions will be placed in a drawing with a winner selected at random. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. Winners will be announced by WVXU via on-air announcement, website and email.
  3. Prize(s)
    Two Competition winners will each receive a $1,000 scholarship that can be used for high school or college expenses: one for a written entry and one for an entry in another format (audio, video or artwork). No substitution, transfer, or assignment of the prize is permitted by the winner. One $500 scholarship will be awarded to an outstanding runner-up in any category. An additional $500 scholarship will be awarded to the student receiving the highest score from the Democracy & Me intern team. Teacher Drawing: One teacher name will be selected in a random drawing to receive $500 that can be used for classroom resources. No substitution, transfer, or assignment of the prize is permitted by the winner. Only one prize will be presented.
  4. Eligibility
    Students entering the competition must be attending school, or home school, and in grades 8 to 12. Employees of WVXU, Cincinnati Public Radio, its affiliated radio stations and their respective affiliated and subsidiary companies, partners and members of the immediate families or households of such employees are not eligible. Void where prohibited.
  5. General Conditions
    The competition entrants agree to be bound by the terms of these Official Rules and by the decisions of the judges, which are final and binding on all matters pertaining to this Sweepstakes. This competition is governed by the laws of the United States. All federal, state, and local laws and regulations apply. All federal and state taxes on the prize are the sole responsibility of the prize winner. The prizes will be awarded and the first winner will be notified via email, mail or phone.
  6. Notification
    Return of any prize/prize notification as undeliverable may result in disqualification and selection of an alternate winner. In the event that the winner declines the prize, it is at Cincinnati Public Radio’s discretion to choose an alternate winner or retain the prize for another drawing or purpose. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission for Cincinnati Public Radio to use winner’s name and state of residence for advertising and promotional purposes without additional compensation unless prohibited by law. By entering, participants release and hold harmless Cincinnati Public Radio from any and all liability or any injuries, loss, or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with this competition or any prize won.
  7. Contest void where prohibited by law.

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