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Why Lifting Up Westchester is sponsoring this contest

On any given night in Westchester County, one of the wealthiest areas in the country, approximately 1,750 people are homeless – 655 of them children. If we add those students whose families are “doubled up” living with relatives or living in other temporary accommodations – the number of homeless children in our County is closer to 2,800 according to data collected by Southern Westchester BOCES.

An educated community is essential to dispel misconceptions about poverty and homelessness and to cultivate empathy and respect for those in our community who are experiencing homelessness. We hope that by sponsoring a contest for 7th through 12th graders more youth–their parents – will learn more about this important issue and start thinking about what we all can do to start reducing the problem. 

This contest has been funded in loving memory of Beth Massey Rubens, a lifelong teacher, tutor and mentor with a  particular love for language arts.


Homelessness: What does it mean to you? How has it touched your life? What are your ideas about how to assist our homeless neighbors here in Westchester County?



Any student in grades 7 through 12 who is a Westchester County resident is eligible to participate in the contest regardless of where he or she attends school.

How the Contest Works
Essays are due on January 31, 2018 by 5:00 p.m. 

Essays must be submitted in PDF format via email to:  2018EssayContest@LiftingUpWestchester.org

Student’s name, grade, school and contact information (email, telephone number and mailing address) must be included at the top of the essay.

Essay must be the original work of the student.
Essays must be between 750 and 1000 words and be formatted in Times New Roman 12 point.

Students need not have personally experienced homelessness to participate however students are welcome to include references to their own personal experience, interaction with homeless individuals, or volunteer work.

Parental or guardian consent will be required as submission constitutes consent for publication by LUW of the essay submitted, student’s name and photographConsent Form
Essays will be judged by grade groups as follows:

      7th and 8th grade

      9th and 10th grade

      11th and 12th grade

Each grade group will have a panel of 3 to 5 judges from the community who will evaluate the essays based on:

•  Quality of written expression (style, word choice, organization, grammar, spelling and punctuation)
•  Effectiveness of argument (is the essay focused, purposeful, does it build a logical coherent argument)
•  Depth of understanding and appreciation of the issue of homelessness 

•  Creativity and practicality of proposed solutions

Winner(s) will be announced on March 15, 2018


There will be three prizes for each grade group:

First Prize            $500
Second Prize       $250
Third Prize           $100

Award ceremony will be held in the spring of 2018 at a date and location to be announced.


Email 2018EssayContest@LiftingUpWestchester.org